11 September 2017

Namibia: Minimum Wage for Domestic Workers Up By 11 Percent in October

Photo: Melody Chironda/allAfrica
Domestic worker (file photo).

Windhoek — An increase of 11 percent has been approved for all domestic workers in the country. The new mandatory minimum wage for domestic workers, including certain revised conditions of employment, will come into effect on October 1.

Also, all employers of domestic workers will now be required to register with the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation by no later than November 30.

The new monthly wage for domestic workers will be N$1,502.05 while the new weekly and daily rates will be N$346.89 and N$69.37, respectively.

The new hourly wage will be N$8.67 and the daily rate for part-time workers will be N$43.35. In addition, part-time domestic workers will now be guaranteed a minimum payment of wages equivalent to five working hours in a day.

According to a statement distributed yesterday by the permanent secretary in the Labour Ministry, Bro-Matthew Shinguadja, the employer's registration requirement is part of the ministry's overall plan to secure compliance with the new wage order. Official registration forms will be made available at all the ministry's regional offices, as well as online, as from October 1.

"It is acknowledged that the minimum wage for domestic workers does not constitute a living wage that will ensure a decent standard of living for domestic workers and their families. It is a bare minimum. Employers and employees alike are therefore urged to understand that the Wage Order is a step towards decent work in this sector and toward the goal of establishing a guaranteed living wage in the longer-term.

"The importance of domestic workers can never be over-emphasised, as they contribute immensely to the well-being of families and to the national economy. Employers of domestic workers are therefore encouraged to acknowledge the important role that domestic workers play by improving wages substantially above the bare minimum," said Shinguadja.

He added that the new rates were decided upon after the consideration of social factors, combined with the 2016 annual inflation rates on food, non-alcoholic beverages, housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, which are considered as the most pertinent to domestic workers.

The inflationary increase amounted to just over 10 percent increase and a real wage increase of 0.95 percent was also included bringing the total increase to 11 percent.

The minimum wage will increase automatically again on October 1, 2018, by an amount equal to one percent plus a percentage equal to the increase of the annual inflation rate of the above-mentioned categories.

A Wages Commission for Domestic Workers was established in 2012 to investigate the overall situation of this sector in the country. This commission recommended appropriate minimum wages and conditions of employment to the minister of labour.

The first minimum wage for domestic workers came into effect in April 2015 and was due for review after two years.

"Vulnerable workers, including domestic workers, are traditionally subjected to exploitative practices, such as extended working hours with neither lunch breaks nor rest periods, unpaid annual and sick leave, non-registration with relevant authorities, such as Social Security Commission and sometimes work without written contracts," Shinguadja added.

Frieda Naris, a national executive committee member of the Namibian Domestic and Allied Workers' Union (NDAWU) said while wages remain low they are happy with the increase. "It is quite an improvement from the N$1,300 our members used to get. We wish it could be more, but for now we are happy."

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