Johannesburg - The Department of Employment and Labour in Gauteng Province will this weekend engage with domestic workers on issues of compliance with labour laws in the Domestic Sector.
The meeting, set to take place tomorrow (Saturday) at Anew Hotel in Pretoria, is set to be based on the recent inspections conducted in Gauteng.
This comes as the the sector is currently being faced with numerous challenges pertaining to high levels of non-compliance, particularly with the Basic Condition of Employment Act (BCEA), the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), the Unemployment Insurance Act (UIA) and the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA).
“During the recent COIDA and OHSA inspections conducted in the Domestic Sector, we were shocked to find that employers do not comply at all,” Gauteng Provincial Chief Inspector Advocate Michael Msiza explained.
He said that it was for this reason that his department decided to engage the main role players in the sector, which are those who employ domestic workers.
“Our intention is to inform, educate, empower and advise domestic workers on their rights and responsibilities in relation to their health and safety at their workplaces,” said Msiza.
He added that this discovery led to an understanding that in order to realise decent working conditions in domestic worker’s workplaces, effective advocacy campaigns must take place regularly, consistent inspections undertaken and rigid enforcement processes imposed.
“The trajectory of conditions of employment for domestic workers in South Africa changed in 2020 following the case of Mahlangu v Minister of Labour, wherein the Constitutional Court declared the constitutional invalidity of Section 1(xix)(v) of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993.
“This section excluded domestic workers employed in private households from the definition of ‘employee”, thus precluding them from claiming benefits for work-related injuries, illness or death.”
Msiza added this session is one of many to come throughout the province and that his department hopes to strengthen the existing partnership with unions and other organisations in the domestic sector as well as attend to and prevent labour disputes and reduce workplace incidents in private households.
Meanwhile, a recent change in the employment sector has resulted in domestic workers in South Africa being formal employees under COIDA. This means that anyone employing a domestic worker must comply with the relevant laws.
Business Tech reported in June this year that the changes were signed into law in April 2023, giving a massive boost to domestic worker rights and protections in the country.
Prior to the bill, domestic workers were not entitled to benefits such as compensation for work-related injuries or illnesses. But now, the department has even extended the deadline for employers to submit the necessary documentation to ensure their employers are covered for workplace injuries.
In addition, the Compensation Fund will also start accepting claims from domestic workers and their dependants for injuries or deaths resulting from work-related accidents as part of the Act, the online publication explained.
The Act also identifies the main employer of a domestic worker and holds them accountable for any workplace injuries sustained by the employee. Additionally, employers and the domestic worker will be required to contribute to the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
Any employee who works more than 27 hours per month must be registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), including domestic workers, Business Tech said.
Employers are now also being urged to make contributions to the Compensation Fund so that domestic workers can claim if they become ill, are injured, disabled or killed while performing their work duties.
Business Tech explained that employers pay an annual contribution to the fund based on an employee’s total earnings for the year. They are also required to submit a statement of earnings paid to all their workers – typically from the beginning of March to the end of February. The latest gazette changes this to 30 June 2023 for the 2022 assessment, Business Tech said.
And for the 2023 assessment, the relevant period is 28 February 2023 to 31 March 2024.
The annual assessment fee is calculated on workers’ earnings, and an assessment tariff is based on the risks associated with the type of work being done. Earnings include all the remuneration workers receive from the employer, which include overtime, bonuses paid, commission, the cash value of food and quarters supplied as part of their remuneration package, the cash value of fringe benefits, travel and other allowances; and any other remuneration in cash or kind to an employee as part of their contract.