'I earn R3000 for nanny work, is that fair?' An expert advises

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The minimum wage for domestic workers is R15.57 an hour.
The minimum wage for domestic workers is R15.57 an hour.

For millions of South African working parents, childminders are crucial to the well-being of their family, yet so many under-pay these precious carers. 

Parent24 unfortunately receives emails and messages like this one below, too often, and we try to keep both employers and employees up to date on their rights and responsibilities.

We caught up with Gabriella Razzano, a legal consultant on issues of transparency, open data, technology and law, and Founding Director of OpenUp, to provide insight and assistance for childminders who find themselves in situations like this one:

Hi,

I'm a nanny to twins and I work day and night, because the babies cry and now they are teething, it's very difficult.

I earn R3000 and I don't think that a fair price, even though I'm not cleaning or washing baby clothes.

What must I do in such a situation? Must I confront my bosses or...?

Please help,

A struggling nanny

Razzano reminded us that nannies are regulated as domestic workers, and that the minimum wage for domestic workers was 'increased' to R15.57 an hour in February 2020, except for those living in ‘Area A’ who work less than 27 hours a week for whom it is R16.03 an hour. 

"I can't advise her on whether her wage is lawful, as I don't know her hours, but additional advice would be that her employer must have her particulars of employment down," Razzano advises.

"She might approach either the domestic worker trade unions for general help, or the CCMA if she thinks she may have grounds for a dispute, particularly for instance if she thinks any of the provisions outlined below have been violated," she adds.

Razzano says that an extra thing to consider is the hours of work, and that her employment is subject at a minimum, to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Sectoral Determination for Domestic Worker (see here).

She explains that there are very important limits to overtime pay and night work in there, particularly these sections highlighted here:

Ordinary hours of work

An employer may not require or permit a domestic worker to work more than

  • (a) 45 hours in any week; and
  • (b) nine hours on any day if the domestic worker works for five days or less in a week; or
  • (c) eight hours in any day if the domestic worker works on more than five days in any week.

Also read: Are you paying your nanny a living wage? Probably not 

Overtime

An employer may not require or permit a domestic worker—

  • (a) to work overtime except in accordance with an agreement concluded by the employer and the domestic worker;
  • (b) to work more than 15 hours’ overtime a week; or
  • (c) to work more than 12 hours, including overtime, on any day.

Payment of overtime

(1)  An employer must pay a domestic worker at least one and one-half times the domestic worker’s wage for overtime worked.

(2)  Despite sub-clause (1), an agreement may provide for an employer to —

  • (i) pay a domestic worker not less than the domestic worker’s ordinary wage for overtime worked and grant the domestic worker at least 30 minutes’ time off on full pay for every hour of overtime worked; or
  • (ii)grant a domestic worker at least 90 minutes’ paid time off for each hour of overtime worked.

(3)

  • (a)  An employer must grant paid time off in terms of sub-clause (2) within one month of the domestic worker becoming entitled to it.
  • (b)  An agreement in writing may increase the period contemplated by paragraph (a) to twelve months.
  • (c)  An agreement concluded in terms of paragraph (b) with a domestic worker when the domestic worker commences employment, or during the first three months of employment, is only valid for one year.

(4)  Any time worked on Sundays or public holidays must be paid in accordance with the provisions for Sundays and public holidays in clauses 17 and 18.13.   

Learn more here: Wage rights for domestic workers and nannies: Here's the law 

Night work

(1)  For the purposes of this clause, “night work” means work performed after 18:00 and before 06:00 the next day.

(2)  An employer may only require or permit a domestic worker to perform night work, if agreed in writing and if —

  • (a) the domestic worker is compensated by the payment of an allowance; and
  • (b) the domestic worker resides at the workplace or transport is available between the domestic worker’s place of residence and the workplace at the beginning and end of the domestic worker’s shift.

(3)  The amount of the allowance in terms of clause 1 (a) must be agreed between the employer and the domestic worker.

(4)  An employer who requires a domestic worker to perform work for a period of longer than one hour after 22:00 and before 06:00 the next day at least five times per month or 50 times per year must comply with sections 17 (3) and (4) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act."

A living wage

Please note that a 'minimum wage' is an amount legislated as the absolute minimum pay level, while a 'living wage' is an amount that allows for a dignified, if frugal, lifestyle.

While salaries are often also negotiated based on experience and qualifications, it is up to both employer and employee to discuss and come to a fair agreement, one that works for both parties and does not leave the employee feeling under valued or exploited. 

To find out what a living wage would be for you, or your employee, use this calculator here: Living Wage Calculator 

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