The National Minimum Wage Bill was tabled in Parliament last week to set up a 10-member national minimum wage commission that will review the national minimum wage yearly and make recommendations to the labour minister.

The minister will be announcing pay adjustments on March 31 every year.

The bill gives effect to the agreement on a national minimum wage thrashed out in talks between the government, business, labour and the community in the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).

The bill provides for a national minimum wage, as agreed in Nedlac, of R20 an hour with effect from May 1 2018.

The rate is included in a schedule to the bill so that it can be adjusted yearly.

Exceptions have been provided for the first year.

The minimum wage for farm workers will be R18 an hour, for domestic workers R15 an hour and for workers in expanded public works programmes R11 an hour.

The proposed commission will consist of an independent chairman or chairwoman appointed by the minister, while organised business, organised community and organised labour will nominate three members each and the minister will appoint three independent experts.

The commission will also be required to investigate the effects of the national minimum wage on the economy.

It will have a secretariat and be funded by money appropriated by Parliament.

The national minimum wage will be obligatory and cannot be varied by contract, collective agreement or law, except a law amending the act.

"The national minimum wage constitutes a term of the worker’s contract except to the extent that the contract provides for a more favourable wage," the memorandum to the bill reads.

It is an unfair labour practice for an employer to "unilaterally" change work hours or other conditions of employment in implementing minimum pay.

The Department of Labour has also tabled the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill.

Among the purposes of the bill are the repeal of provisions on the making of sectoral determinations and the powers and functions of the Employment Commission; the extension of provisions for monitoring and enforcement by the labour inspectorate to apply the minimum wage and unemployment insurance; and the extension of the jurisdiction of the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration to include for example enforcement procedures and claims for underpayment in terms of the act.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za

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