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  • Writer's pictureIzwi

Everything you need to know about employing a domestic worker

SHIFTING THE CULTURE OF DOMESTIC WORK: New resource for employers aims to professionalise the domestic workplace.

This women’s month, Izwi Domestic Workers Alliance & the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI) are aiming to bring greater dignity and fair treatment to women as we launch Employing a Domestic Worker: A Legal and Practical Guide”. A critical step in overcoming South Africa’s race and class divides is to stop treating domestic workers as household servants, and to recognise them as professional service providers.

Working in the home and caring for families is exceptionally intimate work with complex dynamics. Miscommunication, lack of clarity, and differing expectations often result in a breakdown in relationships, and unnecessary CCMA hearings. Both employers and employees benefit immensely from a working relationship that is based on respect, clarity and professionalism, rather than ambiguity and favours.

2021 marks 10 years since the world codified a standard of decent working conditions for domestic work in the ILO Domestic Workers Convention 189. South Africa has ratified this convention and has comprehensive laws in place to protect domestic workers from exploitation. Yet lack of implementation has resulted in widespread working under unfair conditions. For example,

  • Mando* is regularly forced to work extra days when she takes off sick, despite her legal right to paid sick leave.

  • Adelaide’s* boss told her she does not have the right to public holidays in South Africa because she is from Malawi.

  • After working for 10 years for her employer, Anna* was dismissed without any notice or explanation.

These types of labour violations (as well as some which are much more egregious) impact hundreds of thousands of domestic workers, significantly impeding their ability to make viable and dignified livelihoods, and care for their families.

Many South Africans who have a domestic worker in their home do not realise that they are responsible for meeting labour regulations, such as the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, Labour Relations Act, and Sectoral Determination 7 for Domestic Work.

This user-friendly guide has been created as a one-stop resource for employers of domestic workers. It includes detailed information on terms of employment (such as working hours, wages, leave, etc), UIF & COIDA requirements, important guidelines for maintaining a healthy employment relationship, and templates for contracts and payslips.

The guide also assists employers to handle difficult or problematic situations, providing answers to frequently asked questions, information on disciplinary procedures and dismissal process, and a guide for conducting performance reviews.

Employing a Domestic Worker: A Legal and Practical Guide is freely available online and can be downloaded below.

Izwi SERI_Employers Guide
Download PDF • 4.67MB

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