On 15 October 2013, the Minister of Labour, Mildred Olifant, announced that she had directed the Director General to commence a review of the minimum wages and conditions of employment in the contract cleaning industry and the domestic worker sector.
“Both these sectors of the economy are subject to sectoral determinations issued in terms of section 51 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. The sectoral determinations establish, amongst others, minimum wages applicable to employees working in the applicable sectors,” says Johan Botes, Director in the Employment Practice at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr.
Botes explains that employees in areas that are not covered by sectoral determinations do not benefit from a minimum statutory wage. Wages (and other terms and conditions of employment) in respect of these employees are determined individually, between the employee and employer, or through collective bargaining, between trade unions and employers.
“Collective bargaining has in recent years broken down in a number of industries, resulting in industrial action and often even violence. The minimum wages set through the sectoral determinations (and subject to increase following the review announced by the Minister) could assist in reducing the level of conflict in certain sectors. However, statutory minimum conditions of employment also limit employers' operational flexibility and add to the perception of labour market rigidity,” he says.
“Achieving a balance between workers' need for increased remuneration and employer's desire for greater flexibility to changing market conditions is critically important. Employers, in particular, should thus heed the call by the Minister to make written representations on the proposed review of wages and minimum conditions of employment in these two sectors. Submissions should be forwarded to the Director: Employment Standards Directorate in the Department of Labour. The final date for submissions is 60 days from publication of the notice, which is Saturday, 14 December 2013,” Botes adds.