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New wages for workers and other laws planned for South Africa you should know about

South Africa’s new minimum wage of R21.69 for each ordinary hour worked will officially take effect on Monday (1 March 2021).

Sector-specific changes will also be introduced on the same day, including:

  • Farmworkers are entitled to a minimum wage of R21.69 per hour;
  • Domestic workers are entitled to a minimum wage of R19.09 per hour;
  • Workers employed on an expanded public works programme are entitled to a minimum wage of R11.93 per hour.

Employment and Labour minister Thulas Nxesi said the minimum wage is a tool to ensure that vulnerable workers do not fall below the poverty line and it is designed to reduce inequality and huge disparities in income in the national labour market.

“As we have pointed out before, the minimum wage is really what it says it is. But it is not based on thumb-suck but a well thought out process that allows all the interested parties to have a voice.

I have noted with concern the objections from some stakeholders on the adjustment of the NMW and recognise the reality that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a harsh impact on most employers,” said the minister.

Nxesi said the NMW Act however accordingly permits employers that are genuinely unable to pay the proposed adjustment to utilise the exemptions procedures in order to be exempted from the NMW.

In amending the minimum wage this year, the department said the minister had considered all legal requirements, the report of the commission as well as different inputs from stakeholders.

Other changes incoming

Legal firm Webber Wentzel has noted that the minimum wages are the first in a number of employment regulations that South African businesses and individuals should prepare for in 2021.

The firm said that some of the employment-related developments for the year which you will need to keep a tab on are detailed below.

Employment equity and harassment changes

The Employment Equity Amendment Bill is also expected to become law soon.

The Bill introduces several key changes to the current Employment Equity Act (EEA) which includes empowering the Minister of Employment and Labour to determine sectoral numerical targets for different occupational levels, sub-sectors or regions within each national economic sector.

The Draft Code of Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work is expected to be declared a final code soon and it will be housed under the EEA.

The Code will guide employers in managing variousworkplace issues, including unfair discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying.

Privacy 

Businesses will need to be fully compliant with the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013 (POPIA) by 30 June 2021.

The Information Regulator is expected to approve and publish various guidelines in 2021, which will help businesses to interpret and comply with POPIA.

These guidelines include final Guidelines for codes of conduct, final Guidelines for the registration of Information Officers, and a guide to assist organisations to comply with POPIA and the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

Remuneration

The draft Companies Amendment Bill, which proposes amendments to the Companies Act, 2008 may come into force.

Some of these changes relate to access to information, the disclosure of the remuneration of directors and public officers, the disclosure of beneficial interests in securities, and representation of labour on boards of directors.

Cybersecurity 

The Cybercrimes Bill is awaiting presidential signature and may come into force in 2021. Once the Bill is signed into law, a person found guilty of a cybercrime may be imprisoned for up to 15 years, depending on
the offence.

Cybercrimes include illegally accessing a computer system or intercepting data, cyber fraud, cyber forgery and cyber extortion.

Electronic communications service providers and financial institutions will need to familiarise themselves with the reporting and other obligations imposed on them once the Bill is signed into law.

Property

Land expropriation will remain a hot topic and the new Expropriation Bill may come into force.

The Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Amendment Bill, which provides for the application for conversion of land tenure rights to ownership, may also gain traction.

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