17 April 2019

South Africa: Deputy Minister Inkosi Phathekile Holomisa On the Benefits of National Minimum Wage

press release

The R20 per hour National Minimum Wage (NMW) will see 47% of the workforce enjoying a raise in hourly wages, this is according to Deputy Minister of Labour iNkosi Phathekile Holomisa.

Holomisa said whilst the National Minimum Wage received criticism from many quarters as being too low, "what critics have failed to recognize is how it will help millions of the most vulnerable workers to receive better wages". The Deputy Minister said some of the workers that stand to benefit from the introduction of the NMW were those in the following sectors: farming, domestic, petrol, cleaning, retail, hairdressing, hospitality, and restaurants.

He was addressing an employer' session held in Port Elizabeth, today (17 April 2019), on the amendments of labour laws and the introduction of the National Minimum Wage, Unemployment Insurance Fund Act and the Amendments to Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act.

He alluded on the most historic and progressive changes to South Africa's labour legislation since 1994 which was the passing of the amendments to labour laws and the introduction on 1st January 2019 of the National Minimum Wage.

"It is my view that the national minimum wage will enable workers to have disposable income that can be spent in your businesses," he told the stakeholders.

The Unemployment Insurance (UIF) Act has also been amended to impact positively on many of our vulnerable workers. The Act is an obligation between employer and employee and employers are required to declare employment of their employees on the 7th day of every month and also expected to pay contributions monthly.

The Act which was promulgated in January 2017 is going to significantly expand access to UIF benefits by increasing unemployment benefits from 6 months to 12 months, increase maternity benefits from 54 percent to a 66 percent of mother's salaries.

In a briefing on the amended Unemployment Insurance Fund, Advocate Mazwiogwani Phathela said, access to a deceased UIF contributor's remaining payments by the beneficiaries will also be increased. The Act will also separate maternity leave credits from unemployment benefit, thus protecting mother's unemployment cover, and extending UIF coverage to public servants among others with the inclusion of surrogacy.

The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act is still in the form of a Bill. The proposed amendments are inclusion of domestic workers under the category of employees for purposes of benefits in terms of the Act and introduction of a Rehabilitation and Reintegration framework of injured employees into the workplace. This is a provision that will lead to the fund introducing some vocational and social rehabilitation programmes in addition to the current clinical rehabilitation.

Advocate William Mogashoa, Principal Legal Officer at Compensation Fund spoke on the improvement of COID benefits which will include the following;

Introduction of periodic medical assessment to pensioners to give further medical treatment and/or adjust the level of disability where improvement or deterioration is identified

Re-opening of medical claims period beyond the 24-months in order to assist those clients who may still be in need of medical treatment that can contribute to reducing their disablement and;

Removing the no-fault basis for claims, meaning the employer will no longer be required to indicate whether the claim arose out of negligence of the employee or not.

Issued by: Department of Labour

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