The long-awaited recommendations on a national minimum wage in South Africa were revealed this week, just days before Stats SA data showed unemployment had jumped to 27.1% in the third quarter and shortly before ratings agencies deliver their assessment of progress on the structural reforms they have been calling for. The report proposes a national minimum wage of R3500 a month, or R20 an hour. It indicates that a staggering 47.3% of the working-age population earn below this threshold. Moreover, 90.7% of private-household workers and 84.5% of agricultural employees fall into this category - nearly 1.7million people. Due to the potential adverse effects of instituting the R3500 monthly minimum in these sectors, farm and forestry workers, as well as domestic workers, will have a minimum wage of 90% and 70% of the proposed level, respectively. The recommendations were informed by more than 60 research reports, augmented by consultations and a review of evidence. The panel found that a...

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