With inflation on the rise, the majority of South Africans are barely making it to each month-end, and this was especially true for domestic workers.
Unrelenting power outages, price hikes, rising living expenses, and the brain drain (the emigration of highly trained or qualified people) all have an adverse impact on South Africa's domestic workers, who make up 94% of the workforce, according to SweepSouth.
The average domestic worker in South Africa supports an average of four dependants at home and serves as both the family's sole provider and breadwinner, according to data from the company's 2023 Report on Domestic Workers Pay and Work Conditions.
In the survey comprised of more than 5,500 participants, the organisation also found that the average domestic worker in the country is typically 37-years-old and this labour was her only source of income, bringing in roughly R2,989 per month.
“She has to split this money among daily expenses such as food (which has seen a 12% price increases over the past year), housing, transport, electricity, mobile phone data or airtime, school fees and other expenses,” said SweepSouth.
“The average domestic worker spends around R694 more than she earns, is unable to save, has no medical aid and owes about R3,599 to shops, friends and loan sharks,” it said.
Here are more findings:
– 75% don't earn enough to save.
– Just about 9% have savings.
– 35% are in debt.
“Consistent with previous reports, we can see the significant burden placed on domestic workers to support themselves and their families at home. Continued economic difficulties will compound the pressure on workers,” said Luke Kannemeyer, the managing director of SweepSouth.
The survey also found that domestic workers have lost a significant number of jobs over the past year, with employer relocation accounting for 59% of these losses.
In order to secure larger coverage and simpler access, this prompts the urgent consideration of universal jobless benefits, said Kannemeyer.
Load shedding also had devastating effects, revealed the study. Power cuts also negatively impacted the safety and commutes of domestic workers as they navigate the rolling blackouts.
“While South Africa has minimum wage and other labour legislation protecting domestic workers, the report indicates that this is often not adhered to. Without innovative ways to improve implementation and enforcement, domestic workers will not see much benefit,” Kannemeyer said.