Companies that fail to implement the national minimum wage (NMW) could face penalties, which could be harsher for deliberate avoidance.
However, the National Employment Development and Labour Council has yet to deliberate on what penalties should be imposed against employers who breach the law.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) said they were looking forward to the day the payment of the minimum wage became a reality. They wished to see everybody complying with the law governing the wage.
They said the new wage set-up would make it easy for them as all employers would be required to comply, otherwise they could be charged, after the penalty situation was finalised.
The focus has been on the passing of the law and its signing by President Cyril Ramaphosa after elements of it were refined by parliament.
The federations said the R20 per hour or R3 500 monthly minimum wage agreed to at the National Employment Development and Labour Council would go a long way to improving the lot of poor workers. It would also contribute to economic growth.
They envisaged resistance by many employers, expecting some to plead poverty or display an outright ignorance of the new wage dispensation.
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini said there was no way to avoid implementing the minimum wage because it would be law.
“It’s going to be legislated and people will have to respect the law that will be enforced by the government.”
Fedusa general secretary Dennis George said that for generations, domestic and farm workers had been victims of unscrupulous employers who gave them “slave wages”, without any accountability for their decision.
“If some employers say they can’t afford the minimum wage, they must apply for exemption. But you can’t say you can’t pay without giving a convincing reason,” George said.