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Department of Labour NMW roadshow told about system options for employers seeking exemption

The National Minimum Wage Bill is now with the Department of Labour to be redrafted with public input agreed to by the Portfolio Committee on Labour.

The committee’s acting chairperson Sharome van Schalkwyk said that the department will now take time to rework the Bill for submission again to the committee.

“This piece of legislation is critical in our country, not only in fighting inequality, but also addressing abuse of the vulnerable workers in some sectors,” she said.

This past week, the committee deliberated on the Bill clause by clause and made changes, taking into consideration the input received during public hearings.

Van Schalkwyk says this legislation will change the lives of the vulnerable for a long time, and added that it must be close to perfection when it is tabled before the National Assembly.

“The committee had demonstrated commitment when dealing with this piece of legislation and members had shown maturity in expressing their positions on the matter. This was solely intended to protect the most exploited workers in the country,” said Van Schalkwyk.

She added that the legislation will not take away the right to strike, as is often claimed, and the suggested minimum R20 per hour amount was a starting figure that would be reviewed yearly.

National Minimum Wage Exemption

“The system will give one of the three outcomes on the employer’s application for exemption. It will either grant exemption, reject or refer your application for audit review,” Kekulu Padi, Assistant Director, Employment Standards in the Department of labour told employers during National Minimum Wage Road show in Bethlehem today, April 20, 2018

Employers were further told that in instances that they are referred for audit review, they will be given no more than 7 days to furnish the Department of Labour with the required additional information. The Department will then analyse the application and provide a response to the affected employer within 30 days of the date of application.

In terms of the new regulations giving effect to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) Act, one of the set criteria is that employers should comply with other pieces of labour legislation such as Unemployment Insurance Act, Unemployment Insurance Contributions Act as well as the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act. Failure to comply with the afore-mentioned laws will result in the application being automatically rejected.

Employers were also made aware that exemption can only be granted for the period not exceeding 12 months. Approval may be withdrawn should it be found that the employer falsified or incorrectly captured his/her information on the system.  Other conditions upon which the exemption certificate may be withdrawn include instances where it is found that the employer’s financial position has improved to the extent that they are able to pay the NMW.

The system will also respond to some of the challenges and frustrations shared by employers that their applications for exemptions as per the current Sectoral Determinations are responded to very late, as employers will get a response immediately after the submission of the application.

Consultations with employees and trade unions is one of the critical components of the process through which any employer who wishes to apply for exemption must go through.

“We want to make it unequivocally clear that bargaining council has no jurisdiction on the wages below the national minimum wage, and on the same token, the Department of Labour has got no jurisdiction on wages above what is prescribed by the NMW,” concluded Mr Steven Rathai – Director for Employment Standard.

The last meeting in a series of national road shows on National Minimum Wages, with particular focus on exemptions, which were rolled-out throughout the whole country by the Department of Labour will take place at Ngwenya Hotel in Klerksdorp, North West on April 24.

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Gary Watkins

Gary Watkins

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