Are you paying your nanny a living wage? Probably not

As an employer one mustn’t make assumptions about what your employee can live on.
As an employer one mustn’t make assumptions about what your employee can live on.

If you employ a nanny or a domestic worker, have you ever considered how much her household spends on personal hygiene products each month?

How much do you think she spends on sending the family’s kids to school?

What about how much her rent costs every month?

Or healthcare?


If you're paying your employee the national minimum wage, or even a little above, you may not actually be paying her enough to get by.

Domestic work is physical, repetitive and often exhausting, as is the work of caring for children, and the national minimum wage is low at R15 per hour, or R2 400 per month depending on the number of hours worked.

Also read: Readers respond to the minimum rates for domestic workers and nannies

Is this enough? 

At Parent24 we often receive messages from nannies and domestic workers, asking for clarification about their income. A typical message reads:

"I've been working for a family for more than 5 years. I look after three kids, cook and do the house. I'm in a pension policy and UIF, but I've never signed a contract. After deductions I take home R3 100 a month. What is my wages supposed to be?"

For insight into the legalities, read: 

Your nanny, or domestic worker, may be supporting several unemployed dependents, she may be spending huge amounts on transport or she may have medical expenses that eat into her monthly budget. 

As an employer it is important not to make assumptions about what your employee can live on.

Living wage vs minimum wage

"A living wage is the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet their basic needs. Needs are defined to include food, housing, and other essential needs such as clothing. The goal of a living wage is to allow a worker to afford a basic but decent standard of living." - Wikipedia

It is important to 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.

What exactly constitutes a living wage varies from household to household.

As an employer one mustn’t make assumptions about

Living wage calculator 

So how to calculate what a living wage would be for her?

You could have a frank conversation, or you could make use of the living wage calculator designed by Cape Town based Open Up.

The nifty tool requires estimates of monthly household expenses, and then calculates what a living wage would be for the family breadwinner. 

Employers are encouraged to use it to gain some insight into their employee's needs, and to then formulate a salary that works for everyone.

Calculate your employee's living wage here

Try it, you might be quite surprised at the calculations.

Share with us:

Share your thoughts on the living wage calculator with us, and we could publish your story. WhatsApp: Send messages and voicenotes to 066 010 0325. Anonymous contributions are always welcome.

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Read more:

Single mother buys bigger home to make room for her domestic worker

The Nanny Series

Building a good relationship with your child’s nanny

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