22. Feb, 2021

Higher minimum wage for South Africa was not a ‘thumb suck’: minister

Employment and Labour minister Thulas Nxesi has reiterated that the adjustment of the National Minimum Wage rate was the outcome of an extensive consultation process.
The minister on Monday made the comment in response to the outcry on the newly adjusted National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates.
The department last week announced that the NMW increased to R21.69 per hour from R20.76 from March.
The minimum wage is a tool to ensure that vulnerable workers do not fall below the poverty line and it is designed to reduce inequality and huge disparities in income in the national labour market.

“As we have pointed out before, the minimum wage is really what it says it is. But it is not based on thumb-suck but a well thought out process that allows all the interested parties to have a voice.
I have noted with concern the objections from some stakeholders on the adjustment of the NMW and recognise the reality that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a harsh impact on most employers,” said the minister.
Nxesi said the NMW Act however accordingly permits employers that are genuinely unable to pay the proposed adjustment to utilise the exemptions procedures in order to be exempted from the NMW.
In amending the minimum wage this year, the department said the minister had considered all legal requirements, the report of the commission as well as different inputs from stakeholders.

This, reads the statement, was based on these and the results of the initial research undertaken on the impact of the introduction of the national minimum wage.
With regards to the inputs received in response to the notice published by the NMW Commission on its recommendations, stakeholders were divided in their recommendations.
Some supported the recommended adjustments, arguing for an above inflation increase as well as immediate equalisation of the domestic and worker sectors.
“Indeed some stakeholders were against the recommended adjustment based on impact that it will have on employment/ unemployment, low economic growth, the impact that COVID-19 has had on the operations of businesses as well as the high production costs for farmers who will have to bear the brunt of the increase,” said Nxesi.

Research conducted by the Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU) at the University of Cape Town and the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA), found that there has been no negative impact on employment as a result of the introduction of the national minimum wage.
However, they said the reason for that could be due to employers already adjusting almost two years prior to implementation.
Also, research found that the introduction of the national minimum wage led to a statistically significant increase but smaller than expected improvement in wages for the workers it covers and generally there was broad compliance in agriculture, with slightly lower levels in domestic work. Unfortunately, employees considered that the minimum wage for farm and domestic workers was too low.
“The domestic worker sector on the other hand, judging by the findings of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey was severely impacted by the initial levels of lockdown and therefore the recommendation was to increase the minimum wage to 88% of the national minimum wage which translates to R19.09 per hour as of 1 March 2021,” said the minister.

30. Apr, 2020

Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the WHO website and through your national and local public health authority. Most countries around the world have seen cases of COVID-19 and many are experiencing outbreaks. Authorities in China and some other countries have succeeded in slowing their outbreaks. However, the situation is unpredictable so check regularly for the latest news.


Protecting yourself and others from the spread COVID-19

You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
  • Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and others. Why? When someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person has the disease.
  • Avoid going to crowded places. Why? Where people come together in crowds, you are more likely to come into close contact with someone that has COIVD-19 and it is more difficult to maintain physical distance of 1 metre (3 feet).
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and infect you.
  • Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately and wash your hands. Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
  • Stay home and self-isolate even with minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever, until you recover. Have someone bring you supplies. If you need to leave your house, wear a mask to avoid infecting others. Why? Avoiding contact with others will protect them from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.
  • If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention, but call by telephone in advance if possible and follow the directions of your local health authority. Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.
  • Keep up to date on the latest information from trusted sources, such as WHO or your local and national health authorities. Why? Local and national authorities are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.


Advice on the safe use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers

To protect yourself and others against COVID-19, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wash your hands with soap and water. If you use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, make sure you use and store it carefully.

      • Keep alcohol-based hand sanitizers out of children’s reach. Teach them how to apply the sanitizer and monitor its use.
      • Apply a coin-sized amount on your hands. There is no need to use a large amount of the product.
      • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose immediately after using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, as it can cause irritation.
      • Hand sanitizers recommended to protect against COVID-19 are alcohol-based and therefore can be flammable. Do not use before handling fire or cooking.
      • Under no circumstance, drink or let children swallow an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It can be poisonous. 
      • Remember that washing your hands with soap and water is also effective against COVID-19.


Protect yourself and others from getting sick