Daniel Friedman
2 minute read
14 Jan 2019
3:13 pm

Are you paying your domestic worker enough to live on?

Daniel Friedman

A new website attempts to help employers determine whether their domestic workers are earning a living wage.

The minimum wage for domestic workers will be R15 per hour from 1 January. For most other workers it will be R20 per hour. Picture: Masixole Feni

A new website offers South Africans who employ domestic workers a chance to see whether or not they’re paying enough for their employee to live on.

The site offers a calculator which allows you to see whether what you are paying would, on average, allow your domestic worker to pay monthly expenses.

“There are 53 million domestic workers worldwide, which is almost the size of the South African population, according to the International Labour Organisation,” says information on the site, which was written by Kim Harrisberg from Code for South Africa, who created the wage calculator. 

Code for South Africa is billed on its website as “a non-profit civic technology lab” which uses “data and technology to promote informed decision-making that drives social change”.

According to the site’s information, “domestic workers make up 6.8% of the employed population” in South Africa, according to the Labour Force Survey.

“With a workforce as large as this working in peoples’ homes, salaries of domestic workers should be something that South Africans know more about. And yet, to many, it is a topic that is met with aversion or discomfort when it is raised,” the site argues.

“With only the minimum wage as a point of reference, people often ask their neighbours, relatives or friends how much they are paying, and then use their responses as the acceptable norm,” it continues.

The calculator on the site attempts to give South African employers of domestic workers a more accurate way to determine whether or not they’re paying enough. The site, however, says its calculator is “not an end-point, but rather aspires to trigger discussion on a topic often neglected and undervalued”.

The site also looks at the stories of three domestic workers, offering “videos, text, and graphs” which “aim to encourage dialogue between domestic workers and employers, and to stress the validity and importance in seeing this significant part of our labour force as individuals with varying needs, and personal aspirations.”

Find out if you’re paying your domestic worker enough here.

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