As an employee of any company in South Africa, you are protected by some of the most progressive labour laws in the world. The laws that affect you include the Labour Relations Act and Basic Conditions of Employment Acts, which set out clear obligations and rights for employers and employees alike.
South African government has a strong focus on creating decent jobs and good working conditions for all members of the workforce. But despite that, South Africa doesn't have a national minimum wage prescribed by labour law, as many other countries do.
Instead, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act gives the Minister of Labour the ability to set minimum wages across different industries where workers are badly paid, vulnerable and may not have trade unions to fight for better pay and working conditions on their behalf.
Some industries where minimum wages apply include agriculture, contract cleaning, taxis, hospitality, security and wholesale and retail. Other sectors where unions are considered to be powerful or workers are not seen as vulnerable may not have minimum wage levels in place.
If you are a domestic worker, a farm worker, waiter, a security guard, a cashier at a supermarket or a taxi driver, you work in one of the industries where the Minister of Labour has set a minimum wage. In most of these industries, there are minimum wages per month, per week and per hour, depending on if you are a full-time or part-time employee.
Minimum wages may vary between different parts of the country - for example, the minimum wage for a domestic worker in a city is higher than it is for a domestic working on a farm far from one of the big cities.
The minimum wage may also vary according to the actual job you do - different minimum wages apply to drivers, cashiers and assistant managers working in a shop, for example. In some sectors, such as security, different minimum wage levels apply depending on how many years of experience you have. By law, your employer must pay you at least the minimum wage, or it may be fined by the Department of Labour.
It is important to remember that the minimum wage is just a starting point. On your own or as part of a union, you can try to bargain for better wages. If you need help finding out whether you’re working in a sector where you should be receiving a minimum wage, you can contact the Department of Labour for information. Legal & Tax members can phone 0860 587 587 for access to unlimited legal advice on wage-related and various other legal topics.
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