The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is increasing effective 1 March 2022

Employment and Labour Minister, TW Nxesi, has recently announced that the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for each ordinary hour worked has been increased from R21,69 to R23.19 for the year 2022. This comes into effect from 01 March 2022.

This announcement is in terms of Section 6 (5) of the NMW Act, No 9 of 2018, to amend the NMW contained in Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 of the National Minimum Act, published under Government Notice No. 44136.

As in previous years, the adjustment provides exceptions for several worker groups, including:

  • Farmworkers are entitled to a minimum wage of R23.19 per hour;
  • Domestic workers are entitled to a minimum wage of R23.19 per hour;
  • Workers employed on an expanded public works programme are entitled to a minimum wage of R12.75 per hour;
  • Workers who have concluded learnership agreements contemplated in section 17 of the Skills Development Act, 1998 (Act No 97 of 1998), are entitled to allowances contained in schedule 2.

It’s important to note that an employer cannot unilaterally change the working hours or other employment conditions of an employee in order to implement the NMW.

In other words, it’s illegal and constitutes an unfair labour practice. 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.

The Act of 2018 requires the NMW Commission to review the rates on an annual basis and make recommendations to the Minister on any changes to the national minimum wage, taking into account alternative viewpoints from the general public and various other organisations.

The Commission also considers factors such as:

  • inflation;
  • the cost of living;
  • the need to maintain the value of the minimum wage;
  • gross domestic product;
  • wage levels and collective bargaining outcomes;
  • productivity;
  • the 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 to the NMW on employment, or the creation of employment when determining the annual adjustment.

Employees earning more than R224 080,48 (two hundred and twenty-four thousand and eighty rands, forty-eight cents) per annum are exempt from sections 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17(2) and 18(3) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) as of March 1, 2022. These sections protect lower-paid employees by regulating:

  • working hours;
  • overtime;
  • average hours of work;
  • meals intervals;
  • daily and weekly rest periods;
  • pay for work on Sundays, night work, and work on public holidays.

The tables for the adjustments to the Contract Cleaning, Wholesale and Retail sectors, and learnership allowances rates are available on the Labour Department’s website