Domestic worker rights


There are some laws that look after domestic workers. If you do not get what the law says, go see a lawyer. The lawyer will help you.


The Domestic Workers Employers Project (DWEP) helps domestic workers with the law. DWEP gets domestic workers lawyers for free. If you have a problem, go see DWEP. There are DWEP offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. DWEP’s address is:

101 Kenlaw House 27 De Beer Street Braamfontein Johannesburg Tel: 66 -6645


5 Long Street Mowbray Cape Town Tel: 31 -8322


St Andrews Centre 21 St Andrews Street Durban Tel: 39-6757/8


Now read what the law says about domestic workers.


NOTICE: (1)


If a domestic worker is fired, the domestic worker must get notice. Or the domestic worker must get notice pay.


If you are fired, your employer must give you notice. That means you work for another month and get paid. Or your employer must pay you for the time you have worked and give you notice pay. Notice pay is an extra month’s pay.


Example: Zinzi Qunta earned R70 a month. At the end of the month she was fired. Her employer said she must go immediately.


Zinzi must get her R70 wages R70 Zinzi must get R70 notice pay +R70 R140 Zinzi must get R140 altogether


Domestic workers who stay with their employers must get more notice pay. They must get notice pay and food and accommodation pay. Lawyers say domestic workers must get about R80 for food and accommodation.


Example: Maria Motsepe earned R85 a month. She stayed with her employer. At the end of the month she was fired. Her employer said she must go immediately.


Maria must get R85 wages R85 Maria must get R85 notice pay R85 Maria must get R80 food and accommodation pay +R80 R250 Maria must get R250 altogether.


Example: Susan Jele earned R70 a month. She stayed with her employer. In the middle of the month she was fired. Her employer said she must go immediately.


Susan must get R35 wages for half a month R35 Susan must get R70 notice pay R70 Susan must get R80 food and accommodation pay +R80 R185 Susan must get R185 altogether.


Domestic workers who get paid every week and domestic workers who do ‘piece work’ must also get notice or notice pay. Sometimes domestic workers can resign or leave their jobs and still get notice pay:

  • If the work is dangerous, you can leave and still get notice pay.

  • If your employer does not pay your wages, you can leave and still get notice pay. You must ask for your wages and your notice pay.

  • If your employer treats you very badly, you can leave and still get notice pay.

Warning:

  • If you are often drunk at work, you can get fired without notice or notice pay.

  • If you often miss work or come late for work, you can get fired without notice or notice pay.

SICK LEAVE: (2)


Lawyers say that domestic workers can get sick for a week and still get paid. But an employer does not have to pay a domestic worker when the domestic worker is sick for longer than a week.


Example: Thandi Zondo was sick for 5 days. She did not work for these days. Thandi must get paid her full wage at the end of the month.


Example: Elizabeth Lesu was very sick. She went to hospital for an operation. She did not work for 6 weeks. Elizabeth must get paid for 1 week only. Domestic workers only get 1 week’s sick leave at a time.


If a sick domestic worker is fired, the domestic worker must still get notice or notice pay.


Example: John Molema is a domestic worker. He was sick for 3 weeks. He did not work. Then his employer fired him. The employer said he must go immediately. John must get paid wages for 1 week. And John must also get notice pay. Notice pay is an extra month’s pay.


ACCIDENTS AND SICKNESS AT WORK:


The employer must pay when a domestic worker gets sick or hurt at work. The employer must pay wages. And the employer must pay all the medical fees.


Example: Gladys Nkuta cut her finger with a sharp knife in the kitchen. She was making lunch for her employer. Gladys needed to go to hospital. She also needed medicine. The employer must pay for the hospital and medicine.


Example: Lydia Mojapelo was cleaning the floor in her employer’s house. She used a strong soap. The soap burnt Lydia. She needed to go to hospital. The employer must pay for the hospital and medicine.


Example: Sipho Zungu was cleaning the windows outside his employer’s house. His employer gave him a ladder to use. Sipho fell off the ladder. He broke his leg and his arm. Sipho stayed in hospital for 7 weeks. His employer must pay the hospital fees. And the employer must pay Sipho’s wages for the time he is in hospital


DEDUCTIONS: (3)


Many employers deduct or take off money from their domestic workers wages. They take off money when the domestic worker breaks or damages something. If an employer takes off money, it’s against the law. An employer can’t take off money when a domestic worker breaks or damages something.


Example: Dora Masipa was making tea for her employer. She dropped 2 cups on the floor. The cups broke. Her employer was angry. He said he will take R2 off her wages. The employer can’t do this. He must give Dora her full wage.


Example: Teboho Katse was ironing her employer’s dress. She burnt a big hole in the dress by mistake. The employer was angry. She said she will take R10 off Teboho’s wages. The employer can’t do that. She must give Teboho her full wage.


CONTRACT WORKERS: (4)


Many domestic workers are contract or migrant workers. Most contract workers can work for 1 year at a time. Then they must go home and get another contract.


If a contract worker is fired, the employer must pay the worker until the worker finds another job. If the worker can’t find another job, the employer must pay the worker until the contract is finished.


Example: Fikile Ndlela comes from Ladysmith. She worked for Mrs. Smith in Johannesburg. She had a contract for a year. After 4 months Mrs. Smith fired her. Fikile couldn’t find another job. Mrs. Smith must pay her until the contract is finished. Mrs. Smith must pay Fikile an extra 8 months wages.


Example: Julia Masilela comes from Nelspruit. She worked for Mrs. Jones in Johannesburg. Julia had a contract for a year. After 6 months Mrs. Jones fired her. Julia found another job after 2 months. Mrs. Jones must pay Julia for the 2 months she did not work.


A contract worker must not lose money if she is fired and gets a new job. If the new employer pays the worker less money, the worker must get the rest of the money from the first employer. The worker only gets this money until the contract with the first employer is finished.


Example: Mfazi Lubelwana comes from the Transkei. She worked for Mrs. Fourie in Pretoria. Mfazi had a contract for a year. Mrs. Fourie paid Mfazi R80 a month. After 6 months Mrs. Fourie fired Mfazi. Mfazi did not find another job for 2 months. So Mrs. Fourie must pay Mfazi an extra 2 months wages.


Then Mfazi got another job with Mrs. Nel. Mrs. Nel pays Mfazi R60a month. But Mrs. Fourie paid Mfazi R80 a month. That is R20 a month more. Mrs. Fourie must now pay Mfazi an extra R20 a month. Mrs. Fourie must pay Mfazi R20 a month until the contract is finished.


Warning:

  • If a contract worker is often drunk at work, the worker can get fired and get nothing for the rest of the contract.

  • If a contract worker often misses work or comes late for work, the worker can get fired and get nothing for the rest of the contract.


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