A CCMA labour conference is in its final day of intense debates about the state of readiness for the implementation of the National Minimum Wage.

Speakers at the conference in Midrand highlighted the importance of raising public knowledge and awareness of the National minimum wage which takes effect from May 1, 2018.

National Treasury chief director, Catherine MacLeod, says penalties for non-compliance won’t go to the state, but will be paid to the worker.

“There are a number of penalty provisions in the draft legislation for employers who don’t pay, so there will be back payments and penalties as well.  The penalties don’t accrue to the state, the accrue to the employee and that meant to be a carrot to try and encourage employees to come forward and highlight when they are being paid below the minimum wage and the idea behind that was to say that unless you make the application through the exemptions process, you should be paying the minimum wage.”

MacLeod says employers will need to apply for exemptions with the Labour department. But, agreements are unlikely to be below the minimum wage.

“The application for exemption is being run by Labour, and it’s going to be an online process.  There different categories of procedure depending on what kind of employer you are.  So for example if you are a company you will be evaluated differently to if you are a household, and to be clear you can’t write an agreement that would agree to come out to be below the national minimum wage.”

University of Johannesburg researcher, Zoheb Khan, says easy access to information will help increase awareness about the minimum wage.

“And I think a big issue here for compliance is going to be information.  So it the bill its stated explicitly that provisions will be made for training in publicity campaigns and I think these need to be as simple and as clear as possible and also wide reaching.  So that means language needs to be simple and also we need to be providing information in places where you can access it.

University of Johannesburg senior researcher and Casual Workers advisor, Carin Runciman, says the CCMA’s jurisdiction in enforcing the national minimum wage is expanding because the labour department has no capacity.

“We have just over a thousand inspectors for the whole country, last year the department of labour reported that five thousand inspections were not carried out, non-compliance as we’ve heard is as high as fifty percent, Department of Labour has currently this week reported over  a thousand  vacancies and it has apparently returned over a 120 000 to treasury.”

Runciman adds that the phasing out of the sectorial determinations system will have a negative impact on workers.

“The possibility of farm workers, domestic workers engaging in collective bargaining, I don’t think that’s a real possibility, and that’s why the phasing out of sectorial determinations will be detrimental, because its not about pay, its about the conditions. The national minimum wage commission will only look at wages and not look at, as employment conditions commission does, look at condition.”

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