Mildred Oliphant. Picture: GCIS
Mildred Oliphant. Picture: GCIS

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant confirmed on Monday evening that it will not be possible to implement the new minimum wage legislation on the envisaged date of May 1 because the parliamentary process will not be completed by then.

The minister updated media on progress on the National Minimum Wage Bill, the Labour Relations Amendment Bill and the Basic Conditions of Employment Bill being considered by Parliament’s portfolio committee on labour.

Oliphant said that the bills were highly contested and “it has become apparent that the ambition for the National Minimum Wage Bill to become law by May 1 2018 may not be practical given the high volumes of public submissions.

“We are also aware of a number of important issues that are being raised in these public hearings which Parliament will have to consider as part of concluding the bills. We stand ready to take instructions from the parliamentary process.”

The bills, the minister said, were now under the authority of Parliament and the executive no longer had any control of these processes. The department is due to give its response to public submissions on the bill on Wednesday and then the committee will have to consider the proposals received. The bill also has to be processed by the National Council of Provinces.

Oliphant pointed out that regulations to the bill would also still have to be prepared and then promulgated.

There have been calls for a delay in the implementation of the national minimum wage to allow the parliamentary portfolio committee on labour more time to properly consider all the submissions, which number more than 40.

Concerns were expressed over a rushed process and acting committee chairwoman Sharome van Schalkwyk agreed to a postponement of the implementation date.

Business Unity SA argued that the May 1 date for implementation was premature as the system required for the consideration of exemptions was not yet in place. Furthermore, it proposed that the implementation date of the legislation be after the implementation of the annual July wage increases to avoid disputes about “double increases”.

The National Minimum Wage Bill was, to a large extent, the outcome of negotiations within the National Economic Development and Labour Council, although it also contains aspects that were introduced by the Department of Labour.

In terms of the National Minimum Wage Bill, the minimum wage will be set at R20 per hour, while the minimum wage for domestic and farm workers will initially be set at R15 and R18 an hour respectively and will be adjusted to reach the national minimum wage within two years of implementation.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za

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