The Department of Labour took its awareness drive on the implementation of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) Act to Chinese employers.
The department on Monday held a seminar with Chinese employers in Cape Town to inform them about the new NMW legislation and amendments on other legislations.
The department used the session to also inform them of the exemption of certain sectors and how to apply for exemption, as well as to share knowledge on best practices to ensure compliance.
With more than 20 000 foreign Chinese living in South Africa, the department identified the Chinese employers around the country as one of the key stakeholders in ensuring the implementation of the NMW which became effective from January.
Unpacking the NMW Act and Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) Amendments, the department's Pravin Naidoo told employers that if they don't comply with the new law, they will face a sanction where they will pay an amount equal to twice the value of the underpayment or twice the monthly wage, whichever is greater.
Provincial Chief Inspector in the Western Cape, David Esau, presented findings of a recent inspection at China Towns, which indicated that Chinese employers were well on their way to becoming compliant with South African labour laws.
"This is as a result of the ongoing partnership between Chinese businesses and the Department of Labour."
Poverty alleviation came out strong on the day with the Chinese Consulate supporting the NMW as a tool to close the wage gap and to overcome poverty.
Deputy Consul General Lia Cao emphasised that poverty alleviation is a core task for all the developing countries and both South Africa and China can share ideas and learn from each other on how they can better eradicate poverty in their countries.
"We appreciate the Department of Labour to grant the Chinese community an opportunity to sit down with us to explain better the laws that we need to follow and abide with," Cao said.
The NMW sets the minimum which a worker must be paid. According to the law, all workers must earn a minimum rate of R20.00 per hour. The Act applies to all sectors.