The Department of Labour is finalising the drafting of exemption regulations ahead of the enactment of the national minimum wage, Unathi Ramabulana, Deputy Director of Employment Standards Unit told the workers.
Ramabulana was addressing a workers’ engagement/briefing session on the implementation of the national minimum wage (NMW) and amendments to the Basic Condition of Employment Act (BCEA)
and the Labour Relations Act (LRA) at Umtata in the Eastern Cape, on Wednesday.
She says the department will conduct training sessions to educate stakeholders, once the regulations have been published.
The Bill provides for the Minister of Labour to grant exemptions from the NMW – the exercise of which is to be
regulated by a regulation. The regulation will include the procedure for exemption, the obligation on employer to consult with employees or their trade unions, the criteria for evaluating exemptions, and documents
to be submitted among other factors.
Ramabulana says the exemption application will be subjected to thorough audits. She continues to say South Africa currently has no less than 10 Sectoral Determinations (SDs) with a myriad of varying wage structures, adding a workload to the inspectorate and making them (SDs) cumbersome to enforce.
The National Minimum Wage (NMW) Bill, amendments to the BCEA and LRA Bills are currently in Parliament for review.
Department of Labour Director of Collective Bargaining, Ian Macun, reiterated that a single minimum wage would
improve compliance and would make a difference in the living conditions of the poor.
“The national minimum wage is a floor. Nobody will earn below the minimum wage. It will also be illegal of an employer to unilaterally change conditions of employment. Workers can exercise their right and take their dispute to CCMA,” says Macun.
The NMW at R20 per hour will be the minimum at which it will be implemented and enforced from 1 May 2018. The NMW will be reviewed annually. The rate will be applicable to all sectors. Sectors excluded from the R20 per hour level for now are; the NMW for Farm/Forestry workers: R18 per hour (90% of the NMW), the NMW for domestic workers: R15 per hour (75% of the NMW) and the NMW for workers on the Expanded Public Works Programme:
R11 per hour (55% of the NMW). Learnerships also will for now have a separate arrangement.
The transitional phase to bring these sectors to a NMW regime is expected to take at least two years. Macun cautioned that the NMW does not include payment of allowances (such as transport, tools, food or accommodation) payments in kind (board or lodging), tips, bonuses and gifts.
The proposed legislation also makes provision for the Minister to exclude other forms of payment by regulation.
Ramabulana said the introduction of the NMW Bill has necessitated changes to Basic Condition of Employment Act (BCEA), so as to ensure alignment.
In the BCEA, the levels of violation of sectoral determination have been found to be very high. The amended legislation will extend the provisions for monitoring and enforcement by the labour inspectorate to apply to NMW and the Unemployment Insurance. The jurisdiction of the CCMA will be extended to include enforcement and claims for underpayment of the BCEA, the NMW, Unemployment Insurance and claims from contracts or collective agreements.