What does the law say about domestic worker payments during lockdown?


During these uncertain times, South Africans have a lot to grapple with.

Not only are most people worried about their health and safety, but also about their livelihoods.

Unfortunately, many people are getting short-paid, or even losing their jobs. This means that they're unable to meet their financial obligations such as rent or load repayments.

Under Level 4 regulations, some people may return to work. This list includes childminders and those who care for the elderly frail or disabled, and many have now returned to work. 

Must see: Are all nannies and domestic workers able to return to work under Level 4 lockdown?

Unfortunately, the list does not include domestic workers or gardeners. 

Understandably, if you are among those facing financial hardship now, you are worried about how you will be able to afford to continue to pay your domestic worker or gardener at this time.

We asked Advocate Kaiel Grobler of LAW FOR ALL for advice, and this is what he shared with us:

A light at the end of this dark tunnel

Government has appealed to employers to continue paying workers during the national shutdown.

Still, the reality is that many households simply won’t be able to.

There is a light at the end of this dark tunnel, though! Existing and new Government interventions and measures may provide some relief. 

Of course, ideally, you would be able to let your domestic worker stay at home on special leave and full pay until we reach Level 2, when they are allowed to return to work. 

But, if that simply isn’t possible, you need to have an open discussion with your employee to explore alternatives.

This could entail taking a pay cut or being laid off temporarily. If you have to go that route, your employee will be able to claim compensation from the UIF.

The UIF and Government will be under tremendous pressure, though, and there may be delays.

The right side of the law

Staying on the right side of the law is essential, as failing to could lead to legal disputes at the CCMA after the lockdown.

Keep in mind that employers can determine when their domestic workers must take their annual leave, and can force them to take this leave during the shutdown.

It’s a good idea to put any agreement or decisions with your domestic worker in writing, and please ensure that your UIF payments are up to date.

They may need some assistance to claim from the UIF, which can be done online.

What is required?

Please ensure that you can give your employee the following important documentation:

  • a copy of their contract
  • payslips
  • proof of UIF registration
  • a written notice if you are unable to pay during the lockdown

As we all try to cut costs and save money, we will have to make difficult decisions, but we should do so with humanity and heart for the sake of our nation. 

When is it too late to register your domestic worker for UIF? Find out here

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