The National Minimum Wage and its effects

The National Minimum Wage which has recently been announced has sparked widespread debate and concerns, from industries now faced with the possibility of retrenching many employees (currently earning below this minimum wage) and those who believe setting a hard and fast minimum wage which is too low could negatively affect the lower income earners in future negotiations.

How do you determine the wages you pay your domestic workers, gardeners and nannies?  Is it acceptable to find a ‘middle ground’ between what you are willing to pay and what your friends are paying?  How, if at all, do these determinations correlate with the actual living expenses and standard of living of your employees?

Deuteronomy 24:14-15 (NIV) says: “Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns.  Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it.  Otherwise they may cry to the Lord against you, and you will be guilty of sin.”

The growing socio-economic divide in South Africa should be an urgent concern to us and much more than simply a political statement.  The new minimum wage determination sets the bar at a mere R2422.54 per month.  More than half of South Africa’s working class earns below R3500 per month.  R1077 per person is the minimum cost to meet basic food and non-food needs (read the article here http://city-press.news24.com/Business/sa-poverty-lines-rise-faster-than-inflation-20160719).

How do we respond to these statistics, and how do we respond in a socially responsible manner obeying God’s word in the marketplace as employers of the poor?  We believe it is acceptable that the remuneration of our employees should stretch further than simply ‘making the cut’, but reach towards social development and restoring an enormous social divide.

Please follow these links to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and Sectoral Determination 7 relating to the working hours, minimum wage, leave and termination rules of domestic workers (http://www.labour.gov.za/DOL/legislation/sectoral-determinations/sectoral-determination-7-domestic-workers).

This calculator and insightful website, http://living-wage.co.za/, will help you determine the assumed living costs of minimum wage earning workers and how your remuneration affects them.  It considers expenses such as transportation, food, housing and healthcare.  We encourage you to take a few minutes, read through these documents and prayerfully consider how you remunerate your domestic workers, nannies and gardeners.

Under our Initiatives page you can read more on Leribisi’s* story.  What does it cost to live in a shack and how a few simple questions triggered an irreversible change in living standard, hygiene, security and future for her and her 2 year-old son.

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