Calls for legal status for domestics

2012-05-01 15:17

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, Workers Day.

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 Growth Services.

"Others are just overwhelmed by the administrative hassle involved in formalising contracts, registering with UIF and producing a payslip.

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 Felgate.

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 amount.

It was believed up to 28% of domestic workers still did not have the necessary documentation or a formal employment agreement with their employers.

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 records.

Over the last financial year, 1 913 inspections were conducted in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, with 1 542 of those inspected complying.

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 requirement compliance.”

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. 

  • Dennis - 2012-05-01 16:16

    Bearing in mind that 75% of all domestics now work for blacks .........

      Robert - 2012-05-01 16:57

      Well I must say the basic conditions of employment act has now made up my mind. I will be retrencing my domestic worker this month. No more. I am tired. I have lost work and money but was loyal to her. Not her fault but she will have to go - We will do the work like they do in europe. Thanks a lot SA.

      Robert - 2012-05-01 16:58

      BTW we pay her 140% of minimum wages including food and logging. But its enough now

      Tumisang - 2012-05-01 17:12

      Robert I need a Domestic worker please hook me up...

      Robert - 2012-05-01 21:22

      Tumisang - It saddens me that you make such a joke - She is gone and she is a gentle girl and never failed me. But its has become time to look after myself and my fam. This country has taken enough from me and it saddens me that it has taken its toll on all that relies on me. The taxes, rates, electricity, lack of business acumen, this whole paying paying paying for what is getting me when R 30 bn is lost just because. Do you know in your innocent mind how much that is???? No one is locked up. Land reforms, nationalisation of mines amongst idiots and more taxes. My outflows are now greater than my income. Good luck SA. Welcome me Africa against South Africa that is wher our brains are appreciated and are made to count. I am going into Africa and done a lot of research. SA is doomed to be the biggest ecconomy for always in africa.(Arrogance) The people North is gentel and they want us. Let the Grade 4's struggle it out.

      Gerald - 2012-05-01 23:24

      I seriously doubt that statistic, things still way biased. The lowest class whites will be like my maid this my garden boy that and u just wonder. Many black millionaires will hire/live with a relative together with whom they happily clean all weekend then stash her pockets, no reg. As for this whole registration movement. Rights my foot. ANC govt doesnt do anything with nothing in it for them. They want to inflate empl figures, deduct their grants, tax them or something. They WANT that thousand!

  • Tumisang - 2012-05-01 16:23

    Since the inception of the black middle class compliance has increased,unlike when Domestics used to work for Baas and Madam

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-05-01 16:44

      Would be an interesting survey to do, to prove your point. Black employers in rural area's are not that great - I know of some timber harvesting contrators who employ Zim and Moz people for food only. Also, black elite employers like the Aurora bunch - not that great. But maybe the middle class is better?

      Tumisang - 2012-05-01 17:08

      Of course we understand their pain...the kitchen girls and garden boys were actually our mothers,uncles,fathers and mothers...we know what the went through...

      Donny Doncaster - 2012-05-01 17:17

      @tumisang.. Maybe you can employ all the domestics that are going to be out of a job due to people not being able to comply with the legislation... Trying to be clever but burning your people instead.

      Rob - 2012-05-01 17:33

      One can only imagine how some black domestic worker employers treat, feed & pay their domestics !

      braamc - 2012-05-01 19:42

      @Tumisang. Just a pitty there is very little class

  • Cassandra Eileen Olivier - 2012-05-01 16:23

    I am my own domestic worker, you cant domestic workers

  • Chumscrubber1 - 2012-05-01 16:24

    Sometimes over regulation destroys jobs. Some people simply don't have the means to pay minimum wage for instance. A person will rock up for a job, they'll be offered an amount and told they can't afford more. The deal is accepted by the desperate employee, and thats that. At least the person can afford to feed itself. I've being asked by the labour guys not to register temps for UIF as it creates a nightmare at the UIF office. People working 4 days in 3 months go and try to claim, it costs them money, they don't understand how these things work. The transport costs more than what they can claim! Sometimes a bit of common sense helps, just let some things be, you're not helping by trying to regulate them.

  • terry.burne - 2012-05-01 16:46

    that's why I no longer employ a domestic. My old maid retired a few years ago, and there is just too much hassle to employ a new domestic, with all of the legislation and labour disputes to have to put up with. So my house is now a little dirtier than it was, and my clothes don't get ironed as often as they used to - but I can live with that. At least I don't get some union dude knocking at my door telling me when she can and can't work, or that I need to pay her a retrenchment package when she no longer feels like working.

      Lacrimose - 2012-05-01 18:17

      I clean my own house and do my own gardening. Since 2002 I've been able to rapidly reduce my bond by not having to single-handedly support the mnfrs of toilet paper, roller towel, Sunlight Liquid, Handy Andy, teaspoons, crockery, vacuum cleaners, toasters, rakes, spades, lawn mowers and extension leads. Sugar producers have also fallen on hard times. All-round loss for the economy and all-round win for me :)

      Koos - 2012-05-02 02:13

      Amasing how long stuff last when you do your own cleaning. Family member supplied training for domestic workers. Most of them don't want to go and work for a black or indian person. Makes you wonder who is the more forgiving employer?

  • Sechaba30 - 2012-05-01 17:06

    Don't worry, they will talk about this again next year on the 1st of May 2013. Same as when they campaign for elections. I am waiting for the same stuff sometimes next year.

  • Dianne - 2012-05-01 17:24

    I've done my own housework for years. A domestic is just not worth the hassle and besides-what doesnt walk out with them when they go home! Sugar, coffee you name it, even linen!

  • mmangaliso - 2012-05-01 17:28

    people shouldnt flow these labour laws cos they don't get jobs becoz of labour law the UIF is a very little amount its enough to pay the debts. Hint more then 25%...

  • martin.gee.godfrey - 2012-05-01 17:28

    If an "inspector" comes to my premiese and tries to "inspect" anything without me being there, he/she will be charged with trespass. My domestic has an wage above the minimum, works less that the prescribed hours and gets a meal every day so I have nothing to hide but I will not allow anyone on my premises without my permission or a warrant.

      George - 2012-05-01 19:47

      You are generous. In my case they will probably get shot!

  • Mike Purchase - 2012-05-01 17:30

    They are the ones who know your home inside out maybe thats why house break ins are so common,they all have cell phones.

      Lacrimose - 2012-05-01 19:54

      @Kensong - I personally know of 8 incidents, friends of mine, who had hard working, loyal and dependable staff. These people attacked, raped, maimed and murdered families they'd worked for. All these loyal staff were caught and cried 'drugs', 'alcohol' and 'intimidation'. These weren't underpaid abused staff but people working in liberal homes - with living wages, pension funds, medical aids, education for themselves and their kids, etc.long before it was law. So forgive me for lumping these 8 into 'all' but I hope you see the dilemma here. As much as people are afraid to NOT vote for the ANC, so there are many of us who are afraid to ever have home help again.

  • Brian - 2012-05-01 17:40

    I guess people employ domestics because they are out earning money and maybe don't have time or are just too tired to do the housework themselves. Whatever the case may be, if we need people to clean and do all the work we can't or won't do, they need to be paid a reasonable amount. What is a reasonable amount? Someone one here mentioned Europe and the USA. Well in the USA they have minimum wage, and the maid shows up in her own car, at 08:00 does the job and leaves at 4. Most places the mimimum wage is about $8 or so per hour. Do the math. If you want more you pay more like for an au apair. I'm thinking, this might be true or not but if they were not exploited, this wouldn't have happened. What to do? If you can afford a maid, by all means, have one and pay for it, otherwise get on your hands and knees and start scrubbing!

      Dee - 2012-05-01 18:03

      ... or avoid the employment & relationship responsibilities - and hire a cleaning service company on ad hoc / weekly / monthly basis to help out. That works best for me.

  • Mike Purchase - 2012-05-01 18:38

    Nice one Dee.

  • George - 2012-05-01 19:43

    They want to convert domestics to vote providing grant recipients. What business has government to interfere in domestic labour. They can't even regulate paid civil service labour. Look at the state of public service. An international disgrace.

  • Theuns Jacobs - 2012-05-01 19:48

    ask your domestic worker this q: i cant afford the min wage, uif etc..i have to let u go, or u can continue to work for me without the min requirements..what will it be?? ...99Percent will give u the same answer!!

  • Theuns Jacobs - 2012-05-01 19:51

    nobody puts a gun to their heads and says they must work for u...find another job if you dont like my t&c...

  • DuToitCoetzee - 2012-05-01 20:26

    I am sitting with a problem. I do not need one, but because I know the woman and we are like friends, although she shows me the respect of a senior, I always organized work at people for her for years. Not making money out of it, but because of our friendship. When some of her employers move away she will knock on my door and I will let her work to fill that lost day's income. The one day a week slowly became a norm and due to another day lost, in a week, I now also allow her to work two days in a week, but she knows it is to help. Not needing her I decided that she can work till she/we find some-one else to employ her. I ask her to produce her ID to obtain a copy(never could get one out of her) to register, but she always have 1000 excuses. Even informing her that I cant help her anymore without an ID copy she still not producing it, but bring her little son back to soften me and off-cause he always gets pocket money. I said to her that I think she is afraid of gov. because she claims some grants, but she denied. Well, what now? I do not want or need her, but wants to help. I am not going to bind myself or get nailed because she do not want to register and I just want to help, but do not need her services. Every year I give her a bonus that are more than she earn in a full working month. Irrelevant if she work for me or not. Like I said she is so part of my "helping other" journey, but becoming officially responsible for her is not on for me. I learned I am not alone

      DuToitCoetzee - 2012-05-01 21:09

      The concept of a friend is not as close as my friends that I socialized with everyday, but helping her through a few "things" to better herself we have a friendship that is different of those friends. The gov. social system will not help for her. She will be a number and she needs more. She builds her stability and standards on me. To be honest, she try to copy-cat some of my ways, even having less income. Being from what she was (wynkop) to now being a good domestic worker one cant let her slide back again. Presume I can try as long as possible, but I cant officially take her on as an employee. I presume there are many missuses, but the ones like me will now also be effected and believe me there are plenty that do not want domestics and cant afford them, but try to help because it was there "nennas"(2nd mothers)(mine was not)

      Lacrimose - 2012-05-01 21:52

      Friends don't make friends colluders in illegal acts. Under the law you are required to register your domestic worker. The dept. of Labour will not be interested in your friendship or philanthropy. Your friend needs produce her documents like everyone else. This is both a right and a responsibility under the laws of our democracy and to try get around it - by either party - would be undermining our democracy. And illegal. As the employer, the unions have guaranteed that the failure will lie with the employer - you. So either go about your philanthropic ways or present this argument to this lady :)

      DuToitCoetzee - 2012-05-01 22:14

      @Kensong. I admit you are right. I also believe in the straight. Unfortunately I allowed this case to soften me. She has an ID. I know because she produce it when gov. gave her a house after years of helping her and a friend pushing them. @Lacrimose.You are also right. I am always playing fair and legal and getting pushed into a uncomfortable position. Will have to take the hard, but correct way. I also know a law cant serve its purpose if all does not follows it. Yes, there are workers that will misuse it, but even if costly, they will eventually fall out of the system because of a proper system and carrying a working history card one can discover the truth abouth them before employing them. That will help to sift the unwanted out. Thanks guys. You remind/strengthen me in what I know I should do.

  • beryl.knipe - 2012-05-02 06:19

    Trouble is, some people keep on reproducing! WHO will give them all work?

  • gregory.forbes - 2012-05-02 08:37

    At the end of the day, whether you like it or not, its the right thing to do. Domestic workers are entitled to the same employment rights every other worker enjoys, and denying them these is not only illegal, but immoral.

  • pages:
  • 1