The Plight of Domestic Workers

Generally, the plight of domestic workers are seen to be an exploited sector and such exploitation is continuing unabated today. Despite the legislation that has been promulgated to protect domestic workers since 1992, the laws are being flouted as can be seen in the Domestic Worker Sector blitz carried out by the Labour Inspectors of the Department of Labour in the Western Cape, during the period 17 January 2011 to 21 January 2011. Of the 215 households inspected only forty-eight percent complied with labour laws.

Numerous employers were not issuing pay-slips, had not drafted contracts of employment for their domestic workers nor were they contributing to the Unemployment Insurance Fund. This Fund has been established to provide short-term relief to workers, subject to certain conditions when they become unemployed, or are unable to work because of illness, maternity or adoption leave and also to provide relief to the dependents of deceased contributors.

In terms of the Sectoral Determination7: Domestic Worker Sector legislation, employers are required to pay their domestic workers a minimum wage of R7.72 per hour for those domestic workers who work more than 27 ordinary hours per week or have to pay a monthly rate of R1506.35. These rates are applicable from 01 December 2010 to 30 November 2011.

On the other hand, the minimum wages for domestic workers who work 27 ordinary hours per week or less is R9.12 per hour or R1067.15 per month. The abovementioned rates of pay apply to the domestic workers in urban municipalities

*As of 2022, there is a new proposed increase in domestic worker minimum wage. Read more about that here. 

Employers that fail to comply with labour laws applicable to the plight of domestic workers will be issued with a written undertaking by the Labour Inspector, which the employer has to sign, agreeing to comply with all breaches of the law. If the employer continues to flout the laws the Inspector will issue a compliance order, which will result in enforcement by the Labour Court should employers fail to honour these undertakings.


For more information on labour law advice or services. Please feel free to contact us at Cape Labour Consultants and we will gladly assist you. Cape Labour & Industrial Consultants is a Cape Town-based providing Labour Law (Industrial Relations) and advice to employers and employees across all market segments and industries since 1987.

For more information or to Contact Cape Labour. You can find all of our relevant details here.

W.Tel no.: 021-423-3959