South Africa: The National Minimum Wage Bill Released For Public Comment

Last Updated: 13 December 2017
Article by Shivani Moodley

On 17 November 2017, the National Minimum Wage Bill was gazetted for public comment. Given that the Bill was the subject of negotiation and agreement at the National Economic Development and Labour Council ("NEDLAC"), its progress through the legislative process is likely to be fairly smooth. The Bill envisages that it should be in force by 1 May 2018. We highlight its most important provisions below.

The Bill establishes the National Minimum Wage Commission, comprising an independent chairperson appointed by the Minister of Labour, three representatives of organised business, three representatives of the "organised community", three representatives of organised labour and three independent experts. The "organised community" is defined as "those non-governmental organisations identified by the Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the President, which represent community interests relating to reconstruction and development in terms of section 3(5) of the National Economic Development and Labour Council Act".

The Minimum Wage Commission will review the national minimum wage annually and make recommendations to the Minister of Labour on any adjustment (to commence on 1 May each year) to the national minimum wage.

The minimum wage of R20 per hour for the year commencing 1 May 2018 has been agreed at NEDLAC. However, farmworkers will be entitled to a minimum wage of R18 per hour, and domestic workers (including gardeners, carers and drivers employed by a household) will be entitled to a minimum wage of R15 per hour. Individuals who are employed in the expanded public works programme will be entitled to a minimum wage of R11 per hour.

Once this Bill is enacted, employers will be obliged to pay their employees no less than the minimum wage.

The enforcement of the National Minimum Wage Bill is dealt with in the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill, which was also gazetted on 17 November 2017. Broadly speaking, the same mechanisms utilised to enforce the provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997 (the "BCEA") will be utilised to enforce the national minimum wage. The proposed amendments to the BCEA contain important changes to its enforcement provisions, which will also apply to breaches of the National Minimum Wage Act. This means that inspectors appointed in terms of the BCEA will be entitled, for example, to seek undertakings from employers to comply with the national minimum wage or to issue compliance orders. Should the employer nevertheless fail to comply with an undertaking given or a compliance order issued, the Director-General of Labour may apply to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (the "CCMA") to have an undertaking or compliance order given an arbitration award. An intriguing proposed insertion to the BCEA envisages a situation where a labour inspector may, of his or her own accord, refer a dispute to the CCMA concerning a failure to comply with the National Minimum Wage Act. This seems to short circuit the compliance order process.

The proposed amendments to the BCEA prescribe a fine for non-compliance of either twice the value of the underpayment or twice the employee's monthly wage, whichever is the greater. We will have to wait and see to what extent the already over-extended inspectors of the Department of Labour will be able to manage this additional workload.

It is perhaps in light of this problem that the amendments also propose another mechanism for enforcing the provisions of the BCEA and the National Minimum Wage Act. The proposed amendments to the BCEA envisage that "any person" will be able to refer disputes concerning the failure to pay any amount owing to that person in terms of the BCEA, the National Minimum Wage Act, any collective agreement, contract of employment or sectoral determination to the CCMA, to enforce compliance with these Acts. The term "any person" excludes employees who earn more than the threshold amount referred to in section 6(3) of the BCEA, but these individuals may refer such a dispute to the Labour Court, the High Court or, subject to their jurisdiction, to the magistrate's court or small claims court. This probably means that there will be a significant increase in employment litigation on the basis of non-compliance with the national minimum wage.

Interestingly, the proposed amendments to the BCEA envisage the repeal of chapters 8 and 9 of the BCEA, dealing with the establishment of the Employment Conditions Commission and the publication of sectoral determinations. However, existing sectoral determinations will remain in force except to the extent that they prescribe a wage that is less than the national minimum wage. The transitional provisions further provide that, should a sectoral determination already prescribe wages that are higher than the national minimum wage, the wages in that sectoral determination, and the remuneration and associated benefits based on those wages, must be increased proportionally to any adjustment of the national minimum wage for three years from when the Bill is enacted.

Also of practical importance, is that it will be an unfair labour practice to unilaterally alter wages, hours of work or other conditions of employment "in connection with the implementation of the national minimum wage".

The stated aim of the National Minimum Wage Bill is to reduce the levels of inequality, unemployment and poverty. However, there has been a spirited debate as to the level at which the minimum wage should be set. If it is too high, the resultant job losses may defeat its aim. If it is too low, it will also not achieve its aim.

Concerns have been expressed that a minimum wage may impact unfavourably on certain sectors of the economy. This has been recognised, at least in part, by setting a lower rate for farmworkers and domestic workers. Concerns relating to the impact of a national minimum wage on small employers are potentially addressed by the fact that the Bill envisages that employers can apply for an exemption. However, it is unclear what this process will entail and what factors will be required to be present in order to justify an exemption.

This article was reviewed by Peter le Roux, an executive consultant in ENSafrica's employment department.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions