THE recent announcement of wages for domestic workers has created near panic in many homes.
The new wages are so outrageous that the general expectation is that t
hey will be revised shortly. We understand that the new wages are as follows:
Garden worker $800 000 per month;
House worker $850 000 per month;
Child minder $900 000 per month;
Qualified disabled minder $950 000 per month.
Allowances if workers live off the property:
Accommodation $100 000 per month;
Transport $140 000;
Lights $60 000;
Fuel $86 600;
Water $20 000.
The Government Gazette notice says these new wages apply from March 1.
However, legal advice is that they cannot be applied retrospectively and we suggest that you ignore this aspect and simply pay your domestic workers their normal salaries and allowances for March at the old rates.
As regards the application of the new rates, it is clear that these are beyond the ability of most people to pay. We suggest, if these new rates exceed 20% of your take-home income after tax, that you write to:
The Permanent Secretary, The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.
P Bag 7707,
In your letter you should state your address, the staff you employ as domestic workers, their salaries and allowances, and that your take-home income after tax does not enable you to afford the salaries listed in the Statutory Instrument Number 15 of 2005 published on March 25.
The actual minimum wage agreed by the board that deals with these matters was half the salaries shown above.
If you can afford this then you should state that in your submission. If not, you should indicate what you can afford and state that with effect from April 1 you will pay your staff at this rate.
You should then tell the secretary that you wish to formally apply for exemption from the regulations on the grounds that you cannot afford the wages shown in the Statutory Instrument.
Written proof of your income after tax would be essential and should be included as an attachment to the letter.
Inform your staff of what you have done and if you feel comfortable with this, give them a copy of your letter. Keep a copy of the letter and any attachments.
If you are subsequently visited by the trade union officials do not discuss this issue with them — simply direct them to the ministry where your appeal will eventually be heard.
Human Rights Trust
of Southern Africa,