Overview of the Sectoral Determination 7: Domestic Workers Sector 

Employment Contracts

People who employ domestic workers (cleaners, housekeepers, helpers, care-givers, gardeners) are required to register them with UIF and must have a proper Employment Contract with them.  A copy of the contract of employment must be kept for a period of three years after the domestic worker has left the service of employment. If the domestic worker refuses to sign the contract of employment, it does not mean the contract of employment is invalid. A refusal to sign should be noted on the contract, and a witness should sign that the document was handed to the employee. It is the employee’s right to have the contract of employment explained point by point and to understand what it contains.

Notice Period and termination of Employment

Either party may give to the other party written notice of termination as follows:

  • If employed for 6 months or less – 1 weeks’ notice;
  • If employed for 6 months or more – 4 weeks’ notice.

Live-in domestic workers are entitled to stay on the premises for a month after notice of termination (ie. during the notice period) or may agree to pay for the accommodation after termination.

On termination of employment an employee is entitled to a certificate of service.

Procedure for Termination of Employment

Whilst the contract of employment makes provision for termination of employment, it must be understood that you may not terminate your housekeeper’s or gardener’s employment unless a valid and fair reason exists and a fair procedure is followed. If an employee is dismissed without a valid reason or without a fair procedure, the employee may approach the CCMA for assistance and this could cost you as the employer the equivalent of at least 12 months’ salary as compensation.

In the event of a helper being unable to return to work due to disability, the employer must investigate the nature of the disability and ascertain whether or not it is permanent or temporary.  The employer must try to accommodate the employee as far as possible for example, amending or adapting their duties to suit the disability. However, in the event of it not being possible for the employer to adapt the domestic worker’s duties and/or to find alternatives, then such employer may terminate the services of the domestic worker.

Remuneration / Payment

Domestic workers must be paid for every hour or part of an hour that they have worked. Where domestic workers work for less than 4 hours a day at a minimum, the statutory minimum wage equal to 4 hours of work must be paid to the worker.

The hours that the domestic worker works and the area in which the domestic worker works determines the prescribed minimum wage. This amount is subject to increase on an annual basis, so employers are advised to check the minimum wage applicable.

An employer must pay a domestic worker who works on a Sunday:

  • at double the domestic worker’s wage for each hour worked; or
  • if the work is part of the domestic worker’s ordinary hours of work (as agreed and evidenced in writing), at one and one half times the domestic worker’s wage for each hour worked.

On every pay day, the employer must give the domestic worker a statement showing:

(a) the employer’s name and address;

(b) the domestic worker’s name and occupation;

(c) the period in respect of which payment is made;

(d) the domestic worker’s wage rate and overtime rate;

(e) the number of ordinary hours worked by the domestic worker during that period;

(f) the number of overtime hours worked by the domestic worker during that period;

(g) the number of hours worked by the domestic worker on a public holiday or on a Sunday;

(h) the domestic worker’s wage;

(i) details of any other pay arising out of the domestic worker’s employment;

(j) details of any deductions made; and

(k) the actual amount paid to the domestic worker.

The employer must retain a copy or record of each statement for three years.

An employer may not deduct anything from the domestic worker’s salary, apart from deductions recognised in law.

Increases

Domestic workers are required to receive an annual salary increase. This increase must be:

  • at least 8% per year;
  • if CPI is 10% or higher, the increase must be at CPI; or
  • such increase that is legally required as published in the Government Gazette.

Hours of Work

Normal Hours (excluding overtime)

A domestic worker may not be made to:

  • work more than 45 hours a week;
  • work more than 9 hours per day for a 5-day work week;
  • work more than 8 hours per day if working more than 5 days a week.

Overtime

  • Overtime is payable when the Domestic worker works longer than the ordinary hours prescribed per day or per week, which overtime has been agreed to by both parties.
  • Not more than 3 hours’ overtime on any 9 hour working day, or more than 15 hours’ overtime per week (5 days x 3 hours per day), or more than 12 hours on a non-working day may be worked.

Meal Intervals

A domestic worker is entitled to 1 hour break for a meal after not more than 5 hours’ work. Such interval may be reduced to 30 minutes, by agreement between the parties.  During this meal interval the employee may be required to look after children, the elderly, sick, frail or the handicapped while being able to partake of meals and refreshments and this will then be considered as time worked.  Meal intervals do not ordinarily form part of the hours worked.

Leave

The Domestic Worker is entitled to:

  • 3 weeks paid leave per year for full-time helpers (alternatively paid time off equating to one hour off for every 17 hours worked, or one day off for every 17 days worked);
  • 30 days’ sick leave in a 3 year cycle
  • 5 days a year family responsibility leave (if a child is sick or a family member dies)
  • 4 months’ maternity leave (unpaid)

Retrenchment

An employer may retrench a domestic worker on the basis of operational requirements. An employer must pay the retrenched domestic worker severance pay equal to at least one week’s full pay for each completed year of continuous service. If there is a dispute about the entitlement to severance pay in terms of this clause, the domestic worker may refer the dispute in writing to the CCMA.

Employment Contract for a Domestic Worker

Do you need a Domestic Worker Employment Agreement? You can browse our site for a Domestic Worker’s Employment Contract, and a Domestic Worker’s Employment Contract with Accommodation included.

 

This high-level overview is the writer’s interpretation and does not constitute a comprehensive summary of the Sectoral Determination, nor operate to replace the Sectoral Determination in any way. This document is intended as a general information summary and is not intended to be relied upon for the purpose of decision-making.

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