Wednesday | 01 April | 2020
By Marli Naidoo
Most domestics in South Africa – up to 70 %– are single mothers and more than 80% of these workers are the primary breadwinners in their families.
One can therefore understand that the isolation could have a devastating effect on their families’ basic needs. As the most basic expenses of domestics and gardeners are not even covered by the minimum wage and can scarcely be covered by the basic wage, it is impossible for them to save money every month for times like these, and usually they don’t a cent to fall back on.
Employers are encouraged to keep on paying their domestics, child minders and gardeners, even if they cannot come to work at this stage. Aisha Pandor, founder of the SweepSouth cleaning services, encourages employers to not only keep on paying their workers, but to give extra wherever possible.
It is important to keep in mind that domestics are in any case entitled to 21 successive days with full pay per year, or one day for every 17 hours worked. You may arrange with your domestic to take all her leave during lockdown. The same goes for other workers in and around your house.
Unfortunately there are cases where employers themselves are not going to earn an income during lockdown and really cannot assure their own workers of a salary. In such a case the employer can arrange with his domestic for a temporary dismissal. This will allow your domestic to claim a minimum wage from the UIF. You will have to assist her in this to complete an application form as soon as possible (immediately) and submit it online.
The best anybody can do at this stage, is to put humaneness at the forefront. Be a fellow human being rather than an employer and do everything you can to take care of your employees’ needs.
* All information was correct at the time of publication.