The fight against wage inequality in South Africa seems to have taken a step in the right direction, thanks to President Cyril Ramaphosa finally signing into law the long-awaited National Minimum Wage Act.

What is the new national wage in South Africa?

The new national minimum wage will now be R3 500 a month or R20 an hour, depending on the number of hours worked. There is also a phase-in period for farm workers, forestry workers, domestic workers, the welfare sector and care workers. Employers can only be granted an exemption if they cannot afford to pay the minimum wage and only after proper consultation with employees and trade union representatives.

How Parliament felt about the new national minimum wage in South Africa

The majority of MPs in Parliament voted in favour of the bill earlier this year, and supporters of the new law believe that the change will stimulate much-needed economic growth and significantly reduce wage inequality.

“I am very pleased that the journey towards addressing the plight of the lowest paid workers in the labour market has reached this milestone,” said Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant.

Increase in CCMA cases involving employers not complying with the new national minimum wage in South Africa

In the first few months of the new law being implemented, there have been a number of employers, specifically in Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal that haven’t adjusted employees’ wages.  In fact, Bizcommunity reports that there’s been 262 referrals regarding the National Minimum Wage Act alone. The breakdown shows that 204 employers failed to pay any amounts owed to employees; 34 of the cases involved employers refusing to change employees’ terms and conditions of employment; and 34 instance related specifically to dismissal as a result of the National Minimum Wage Act.

What is the Department of Labour doing about this?

At the moment, the Department says it is dedicated to naming and shaming businesses that do not comply in a list on its website. What’s more, the Department has assigned 1300 inspectors to investigate the compliance of businesses across the country.

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