National minimum wage, learnership allowances increase in March

New NMW represents an increase of 6.9 percent from the base rate of 2021.

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) has increased to R23.19 per hour, effective 1 March 2022. The adjustment, which is governed by the National Minimum Wage Act, was announced this week by Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi.

The NMW is the amount payable for ordinary hours of work and excludes payment of allowances (such as transportation, tools, food, or lodging), payments in kind (board or lodging), tips, bonuses, and gifts.

This change, from last year’s NMW of R21,69, provides exceptions for several worker groups, including:

  • Workers employed on an expanded public works programme, who are entitled to a minimum wage of R12.75 per hour;
  • Workers who have concluded learnership agreements under the Skills Development Act, who are entitled to allowances.

The tables for the adjustments to the contract cleaning, wholesale and retail sectors, and learnership allowances rates are available on the departmental website.

According to the statement released by the Department of Employment and Labour, it is illegal and unfair labour practice for an employer to unilaterally change working hours or other employment conditions in order to implement the NMW.

The NMW Act requires the National Minimum Wage Commission to review the rates on an annual basis and make recommendations to the national minimum wage, while also taking into account alternative viewpoints, including those of the general public.

The Commission considers the following factors when determining the annual adjustment:

  • Inflation;
  • The cost of living, and the need to maintain the value of the minimum wage;
  • Gross domestic product;
  • Wage levels and collective bargaining outcomes;
  • Productivity;
  • Employers’ ability to carry on their businesses successfully;
  • The operation of small, medium, or micro-enterprises and new enterprises; and
  • The likely impact of the recommended adjustment on employment or the creation of employment.

Employees earning more than R224,080.48 per year are exempt from certain sections of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) as of 1 March 2022. These sections protect vulnerable employees by regulating, among other things, working hours, overtime, and compressed schedules. working time, average hours of work, meals interval, daily and weekly rest periods, pay for work on Sundays, night work, and work on public holidays.