Mabonde Nyingwa, Bandile Zitshu and Zithandele Mabandla work at their welding business in this file picture. It is proposed that certain sectors such as small business be phased into minimum wage enforcement. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Mabonde Nyingwa, Bandile Zitshu and Zithandele Mabandla work at their welding business in this file picture. It is proposed that certain sectors such as small business be phased into minimum wage enforcement. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

I have looked very carefully at the suggested national minimum wage exemption regulations penned by the labour minister and concluded they make a mockery of our labour legislation. A 10% exemption from the minimum wage amounts to a mere R2 an hour, and to achieve this applicants must submit their financial information, household income, commercial balance sheet, working hours and a motivation as to why the discount should be approved.

Over and above this, the people who will most desperately need to apply for an exemption won’t be able to supply the required information. These are not true exemptions, they merely send a message to employers that if they can’t afford the R20 an hour minimum wage they must retrench staff. The reality is that many employers, especially small firms, are already undergoing such retrenchment programmes, and many more have simply stopped recruiting.

Even if an exemption is actually granted, it is only valid for one year. Yet when our president was asked how job losses can be avoided he said businesses can apply for exemptions. Obviously, the president was not aware that the exemption refers to a mere R2 per hour discount.

The welfare community, who receive on average only about R11 an  hour for their sheltered employment staff, will now very likely have to either close shop or break the law.

Michael Bagraim
DA labour spokesperson

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