With the national minimum wage set to be implemented in just over a month, the government says that it hopes to have the bill governing the policy enacted in April and the 13-member minimum wage commission that will monitor the policy’s effectiveness appointed by May 1.
The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) is holding a two-day conference to discuss SA’s preparedness for the policy.
This week, stakeholders at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) finalised the national minimum wage regulations, outlining how the policy will be operated. They also discussed the details of how exemption applications by employers will be handled.
Nedlac executive director Madoda Vilakazi said that the regulations were ready for public comment. But parties to Nedlac have not reached an agreement on the 90% minimum wage threshold for categories of vulnerable employees such as farm workers.
“There are different opinions on that. We hope after the process of public comment we will revisit that as Nedlac and come up with something that will be consensus,” Vilakazi said.
Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant told delegates to the conference the national minimum wage commission would review the wage every year.
While the CCMA will be responsible for enforcement procedures, claims for underpayments and other functions included in the amendments in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the commission will regularly investigate the effect of the policy on the economy.
The government has set the minimum wage at R20 per hour, or R3,500 a month, with a stipulation that employers had to pay workers a minimum of four hours a day.
The CCMA said it expected its caseload to increase 5% once the wage was implemented and a further 10% in 2019 due to Labour Relations Act amendments. Another increase was anticipated for 2020-21 when the wage will be fully extended to domestic workers and farm workers around the country.
The labour dispute resolution body’s new jurisdiction will cover issues such as the unilateral change of terms and conditions of employment, underpayments, noncompliance and compliance orders as a result of the national minimum wage and other new labour law amendments.
Delegates attending the conference raised a number of concerns, however.
The most prominent was the government’s plan to ensure employers complied with the new law.
The inspectorate services that will oversee the implementation will remain at the Department of Labour, with their scope expanded to cover the national minimum wage, said Oliphant.
The department still has to rectify its reference of workers in the National Minimum Wage Bill before it is enacted.