Johannesburg - While compliance with legislation
guaranteeing the rights of domestic workers has seen a steady climb, many
employers were still not complying, a labour consultant said on Tuesday,
Reasons for the slow rate of employer compliance with the
Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act
was often due to ignorance, said Yendor Felgate.
"Our research into why so many employers fail to
legalise their domestic service arrangements indicates that while most employers
are keen to do the right thing, few are aware that that their two-day-a-week
domestic worker qualifies as an employee," said Yendor, CEO of Emergence
"Others are just overwhelmed by the administrative
hassle involved in formalising contracts, registering with UIF and producing a
Non-compliance was therefore mostly not because of malicious
intent but due to not knowing what needed to be done or how to do it, said
This was probably because the domestic employment industry
had been unregulated for many years.
Progress was being made with inspections taking place at
both businesses and private homes, said a deputy director in the department of
labour's Pieter Laubscher.
Those not complying face fines, prosecution and in extreme
cases, possible jail time.
The most recent national census, conducted last year, was
expected to declare a conservative figure of approximately 900 000 domestic
workers in South Africa.
This figure would be accepted as being lower than the true
It was believed up to 28% of domestic workers still did not
have the necessary documentation or a formal employment agreement with their
As a result, the department of labour had initiated on-going
inspections to ensure employers complied with legislation.
Laubscher said all provincial offices kept inspection
Over the last financial year, 1 913 inspections were
conducted in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, with 1 542 of those inspected
Most inspections would continue to be done in residential
areas and ignorance would not be accepted as an excuse for non-compliance.
Felgate said, “Domestic employers must realise that
inspection teams may arrive at your doorstep and have the right to check your
premises, talk to your domestic employee, and to ask for proof of employment
David Honeyman, an executive at Guardrisk Allied Products
and Services, said employee benefits for those working in corporations were not
often afforded to domestic workers.
This was even though it was domestic workers who most
required the protection offered by legislation.