5 things you need to know when hiring a domestic worker in South Africa – including hours, pay and time off

Employment contracts are very important in safeguarding the rights of both the employer and employee.

When entering into an agreement where one party agrees to offer services to another party, a valid contract that clearly stipulates the agreement has to be signed.

“This is equally important for individuals who hire helpers around the house,” said Tertius Bossert, operations manager at FNB Law on Call.

“When agreeing to hire someone, it is important that there’s an agreement in writing. This is to protect both parties in the case of any disputes and contracts are there to serve this purpose which can be highly beneficial to both parties,” he said.

Below Bossert breaks down the five most important things that a domestic worker’s contract should entail.


1. Job description

The employment contract must specify your employee’s job title and a description of the work that will be carried out. This is to ensure that both parties are on the same page in terms of what to expect and what is expected from each other.


2. Working hours

It is worth noting that working hours cannot be more than the 45 hours a week that is prescribed in the country’s labour laws, which can be broken down into nine hours a day for a five day work week or eight hours a day for a six day work week. Any additionally hours are considered overtime.


3. Remuneration

Employers have to adhere to domestic worker’s minimum wages set by the Department of Labour which clearly stipulate that domestic workers who work in urban areas earn a minimum of R13.05 per hour whereas those working at non-urban areas earn a minimum of R11.89 per hour.

These rates are, however currently under review.


4. Leave days

Statutory leave such as annual leave, sick leave, maternity leave and family responsibility leave should be stipulated in the employment contract.

In cases where the employee needs to take leave, they will have to apply for leave with her employer.

Basic Conditions of Employment legislation requires that workers get a minimum of 21 consecutive days of annual leave each year. Employers can only pay workers instead of granting annual leave when employment is terminated.

Both the employer and worker should agree to the timing of leave. If they cannot agree, the employer makes the final decision. Leave must be granted not later than 6 months after the end of the annual leave cycle (12 month periods from date of employment).


5. Notice period

The contract needs to include the notice period in the event that one party wishes to terminate the contract.

One week notice is often given if the domestic worker is employed for one month or less, two weeks’ notice if employed for more than 1 month, but less than 12 months, and four weeks’ notice if employed for more than twelve months.

The termination of employment should be in writing unless if the employee is unable to read or write. In this case termination can also be verbal.

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