The importance of a?domestic labour contract

2014-05-04 15:00

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You’ve employed the same domestic worker for the past 10 years but now, due to a change in your financial circumstances, you need to either end her contract or reduce her working hours.

If you don’t follow the correct procedure, you could find yourself in front of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Labour adviser Rael Solomon says he typically finds employers who have a gardener once a week fail to realise that any employee who works more than 24 hours a month is considered a permanent employee.

Here’s what you need to know:

The employment contract

The first basic rule is that you have to have an employment contract in place. This protects not only you but also your domestic worker.

The employment contract should clearly state:

.?Your full name and address as well as that of your employee;

.?The place of work and the date from which they are employed;

.?The agreed working hours (not more than 45 hours a week);

.?The agreed salary;

.?An agreed payment for overtime;

.?Any other agreed payments such as a travel allowance and December bonus;

.?Payment in kind, for example, meals and/or accommodation;

.?Leave agreed to – annual leave, maternity leave, sick leave and family responsibility leave;

.?The term of the contract; and

.?The notice period required for either party to terminate the contract.

Bernard Reisner, an industrial relations consultant at Cape Labour and Industrial Consultants, says having an employment contract in place is a legal requirement. He points out that any clauses in an employment contract that conflict with legislation will be deemed null and void.

Working conditions

Although you are not legally required to provide lunch for your domestic worker, you do have to allow an hour’s lunch interval if she is going to be working for more than five continuous hours.

If you do provide lunch, discuss this beforehand to avoid any misunderstandings.

For example, if you tell your domestic to help themselves to lunch, you cannot later complain if you find that the supper you prepared for later that night has been eaten.

Make it absolutely clear what you expect so that you are both informed and know where your boundaries are.

Minimum salary

Under the Labour Act, the current minimum wage for domestic workers is:

.?The hourly minimum rate for more than 27 hours a week is R9.63, the weekly minimum rate is R433.35 and the monthly minimum rate is R1?877.70; and

.?If your domestic works less than 27 hours a

week, the hourly minimum rate is R11.27, the weekly minimum rate is R304.29 and the monthly minimum rate is R1?318.48.

Public holidays

If your domestic is required to work on a public holiday, that constitutes overtime and she needs to be compensated for that.

Assuming your domestic only comes in twice a week and one of her days happens to fall on a public holiday, you can either ask her to come in on a different day of the week or you will have to pay her double her usual daily rate.


Your domestic worker has the same rights that you do with your employer and cannot simply be fired. Make sure you follow the correct procedure:

.?You must provide notice in writing – one week in advance if the period of employment was six months or less, and four weeks in advance if he or she was employed for more than six months.

.?If your domestic worker cannot read, you must verbally explain the notice letter.

.?You must be able to provide a valid reason for dismissal.

.?If you are no longer able to employ your domestic due to a change in your financial circumstances, you are responsible for severance pay. He or she is entitled to one week of severance pay for every year of service.

.?If there has been a breach of contract or your domestic has not performed their duties to your satisfaction, you must hold a disciplinary hearing before dismissal. You will have to provide them with written notice of the hearing at least 48 hours before it is to take place and your domestic is allowed to bring a representative to the hearing.

.?The domestic must also sign an acknowledgement of having received the notice of the hearing. It is advisable to have a witness present. The witness could be a neighbour, your spouse or a friend.

.?At the hearing, all accusations must be substantiated. For example, if you allege your domestic was drunk during working hours, you will have to provide a breathalyser test as evidence.

Domestic worker benefits

Domesticsure by First for Women:

This product includes cover for death, disability and hospitalisation. If your employee dies, it will be covered for up to R25?000 if it’s a natural death, and up to R50?000 if due to an accident.

The product includes a repatriation service with cover of up to R3?000.

If your domestic worker is seriously injured and needs hospitalisation, this will be covered for R200/day for a maximum of 104 weeks. The Hello Doctor benefit gives your domestic worker access to a qualified doctor for advice and guidance.

Another benefit of Domesticsure is Pocket Payroll, which enables you to create payslips for your domestic worker through retrieving payslip information via your smart device or computer. It’s fully Sars and Basic Conditions of Employment Act compliant, and also assists you by generating Sars documents like IRP5 and EMP201 forms.

Cost: From R66 a month.

Absa Home Employees Provident Fund:

This is a flexible fund and can include the following cover – retirement, disability, death and funeral benefits.

Cost: Contributions range from R120 a month with no risk benefits, to R1?312 for R200?000 death and capital disability cover, as well as a funeral benefit of R10?000.

Domesticare and Dometicare Plus:

This offers access to the national network of CareCross doctors. Benefits include unlimited doctor visits, acute medication, radiology, pathology and a maternity benefit. You can upgrade to Domesticare Plus, which also offers dentistry and optometry benefits.

Cost: From R210 to R235 a month.

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