Domestic Workers Rights

All workers have certain rights under the Constitution of South Africa and labour regulations. This is a summary of domestic workers’ rights in South Africa. A domestic worker is a gardener, driver or person who looks after children, the aged, sick, frail or disabled in a private household, but not on a farm.

1.    Notice period and termination of employment
If you who wish to end an employment contract, you must give notice in writing (unless you are illiterate). If your employer wishes to end your employment contract, he/she must give notice to you in writing. Notice must be given as follows:
·       one week in advance – if employed for 6 months or less
·       four weeks in advance – if employed for more than 6 months
The employer must verbally explain the notice to the domestic worker if he/she is not able to understand it in written form.

2.    What rights do I have after notice is given?
After notice is given, domestic workers have the following rights:

·      If you live in accommodation provided by the employer then the employer must give you one month’s notice to leave the accommodation or until the contract of employment could lawfully have been terminated.

·      All money that is owing to you (for example, wages, allowances, pro rata leave, paid time-off not taken, and so on) must be paid.

3.    When can a domestic worker’s contract of employment be terminated?
A domestic worker’s contract of employment may not be terminated unless a valid and fair reason exists and a fair procedure is followed. If an employee is dismissed without a valid reason or without a fair procedure, the employee can refer the case to the CCMA. (You can find full instructions by here: http://www.ccma.org.za/Display.asp?L1=32&L2=9.) This should be done within thirty days of being dismissed.
If a domestic worker cannot return to work because of a disability, the employer must investigate the nature of the disability and decide whether or not it is permanent or temporary. The employer must try to change or adapt the duties of the employee to accommodate the employee as far as possible. But, if it is not possible for the employer to change or adapt the duties of the domestic employee then the employer can terminate his/her services.
An employer who has to dismiss an employee due to a change in his/her economic, technological, or structural set-up, called operational requirements in the determination, is responsible for severance pay to the employee.

4.
   Minimum wage
All employers of domestic workers throughout South Africa have to pay their employees a minimum wage. There are two rates for the minimum wage which are based on:

  • where the domestic employee works
  • the number of hours worked per week

You can find up-to-date information on the current minimum wage here:
http://www.mywage.co.za/main/minimum-wages/domestic-workers-wages/domestic-workers

5. Hours of work

(a) Normal hours (excluding overtime)
A domestic worker cannot work more than:

  • 45 hours per week
  • 9 hours per day for a five day work week
  • 8 hours a day for a six day work week

(b) Overtime
Overtime is voluntary and a domestic worker may not work –

  • more than 15 hours overtime per week, and
  • more than 12 hours on any day, including overtime.

Overtime is paid at one and a half times the employee’s normal wage or an employee may agree to take paid time off.

(c) Daily and weekly rest periods
A domestic worker is entitled to a daily rest period of 12 consecutive hours (hours in a row) and a weekly rest period of 36 consecutive hours, which must include Sunday, unless otherwise agreed.

(d) Standby
Standby means any period between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. when a domestic worker is needed to be at the workplace and is allowed to rest or sleep but must be available to work if necessary.
This may only be done if you and your employer have agreed in writing and not more than 5 times per month. An allowance of at least R20 per shift must be paid for standby.
An employer must pay a domestic worker for any time worked in excess of three hours during any period of stand-by. The employee must be paid at the normal overtime rate or given paid time-off.

(e) Night work

  • Night work means work performed after 6 p.m. and before 6.a.m.
  • Night work is allowed only if the domestic employee has agreed to this in writing. The employee must be compensated by an allowance of at least 10% of the ordinary daily wage.

6. Meal intervals
A domestic worker is entitled to a one-hour break for a meal after five hours continuous work. The interval may be reduced to 30 minutes by agreement. When a second meal interval is required because of overtime worked, it may be reduced to not less than 15 minutes. If an employee has to work through his or her meal interval, then they must be paid for this.

7. Work on Sundays
Work on Sundays is voluntary and a domestic employee cannot be forced to work on a Sunday.
A domestic worker who works on a Sunday must be paid double the daily wage.
If the employee ordinarily works on a Sunday he/she should be paid one and a half times the wage for every hour worked. If both the employer and employee agree, the employee can be paid by giving her / him time off of one and a half hours off for each overtime hour worked.

8. Public Holidays
Domestic workers are entitled to all the public holidays in the Public Holidays Act but the they may also agree to other public holidays. Work on a public holiday is voluntary which means a domestic employee may not be forced to work.
The official public holidays are:
New Years day
Human rights day
Good Friday
Family Day
Freedom Day
Employees Day
Youth Day
National Woman’s Day
Heritage Day
Day of Reconciliation
Christmas Day
Day of Goodwill
Where the government declares an official public holiday at any other time then this must be granted. The days can be exchanged for any other day by agreement.
If the employee works on a public holiday he/she must be paid double the normal days wage.

9. Annual leave
Full time domestic workers are entitled to 3 weeks leave per year. If the employer and employees agree they can take leave as follows: 1 day for every 17 days worked or one hour for every 17 hours worked.
The leave must be given not later than 6 months after completing 12 months of employment with the same employer. The leave may not be given at the same time as sick leave, nor at the same time as a period of notice to terminate work.

10. Sick leave
During the first six months of employment, an employee is entitled to one day’s paid sick leave for every 26 days worked.
During a sick leave cycle of 36 months, an employee is entitled to paid sick leave that is equal to the number of days the employee would normally work during a period of 6 weeks.
The employer does not have to pay an employee if the employee has been absent from work:

  • for more than two days in a row, or
  • on more than two occasions during an 8-week period

and does not produce a medical certificate stating that he/she was too sick or injured to work. The certificate can be from a doctor, a traditional healer or a qualified nurse.

11. Maternity leave
A domestic worker is entitled to up to 4 consecutive months maternity leave. The employer does not have to pay the employee for the period for which she is off work due to her pregnancy. However the employer and employee may agree together that the employee will receive part of her whole wage for the time that she is off. The mother can also claim maternity benefits from UIF for the full four months.

12. Family responsibility leave
Domestic workers who have been employed for longer than 4 months and for at least 4 days a week are entitled to take 3 days paid family responsibility leave during each leave cycle in the following circumstances:

  • when the employee’s child is born
  • when the employee’s child is sick
  • if one of the following people dies: the employee’s husband / wife / life partner / parent /adoptive parent / grandparent/ child/adopted child/ grandchild/ brother or sister

13. Deduction from the remuneration
An employer is not allowed to deduct any monies from the employee’s wages without his/her written permission.
There can be a deduction of no more than 10% for accommodation if the accommodation:

  • is weatherproof and generally kept in good condition;
  • has at least one window and door, which can be locked;
  • has a toilet and bath or shower, if the domestic worker does not have access to any other bathroom.

14. Prohibition of employment
No one under the age of 15 can be required or permitted to work.

15. General administrative requirements
Employers must comply with the following administrative processes:

  • Provide employees with a written contract of employment
  • Payment must be made in a sealed envelope, by cash or cheque, and must include a detailed payslip. The employer must keep copies of these payslips for 3 years.

41 responses to “Domestic Workers Rights

    • Hello Keri!

      Are you based in Cape Town? Our organisation aims to help immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers. If you feel as though you are underpaid or mistreated, please stop by our office and one of our legal assistents will help you.

      Our office is located at:

      Tulbagh Centre Building (4th floor, room 413-414)
      16 Hans Strijdom Avenue Lane, Cape Town 8001

      Office phone number: 0214182838

      Kind Regards,
      PASSOP

  1. Good Day.

    I am as son of a Domestic Worker who worked as a Gardener as well as a Driver to his employer Mrs G for the passed 18 years.

    I can say my father died while he was still working for this woman, cos he was reporting on duty 1 day in a week even though he was still not the right doctor’s permission to start working.

    Now after He passed away on the 12 May 2016, the employer said he is not entittled to anything (UIF, Annual Leave and Service Parkage for that 18 years.

    Please can anyone help me in this regard.

    I will be very happy happy if I can be contacted on 0788334539.

    Regards D Thateli

    • Hello David Thateli,

      Are you based in Cape Town?

      PASSOP will gladly help you with your issue if you stop by our office with all necessary documentation and letters for your father’s case. We have legal assistants that are available Monday-Friday 9.00-16.30.

      Please stop by our office for more help:

      Tulbagh Centre Building (4th floor, room 413-414)
      16 Hans Strijdom Avenue Lane, Cape Town 8001

      Office phone number: 0214182838

      Kind Regards,
      PASSOP

  2. Iamworking from 5:30pm till 7:00am Monday to Friday two weeks leave June and two weeks leave December my salary is 2,500 per month is that enough

    • Hello Meriam,

      PASSOP works with fighting for the rights of asylum-seekers, immigrants, and refugees. If you fit within this category and would like further assistance, please contact our office for help from our legal assistants.

      Tulbagh Centre Building (4th floor, room 413-414)
      16 Hans Strijdom Avenue Lane, Cape Town 8001

      Office phone number: 0214182838

      Kind Regards,
      PASSOP

  3. I am a domestic worker so I work 10yrs.Now I am sick I go to doctor.A doctor say I can’t work any more be cause I got athratis.She give me letter I take it to my employer.So my employer say I must do a letter and wrote it say “I RISEN I CANT WORK ANY MORE”When I ask her why can I wrote letter because doctor do a letter she say CCMA say I must wrote it

    • Hello Moffat,

      We would gladly help you. Please come by the office with your legal documents to speak with one of our legal assistants.

      Our office is located at:
      Tulbagh Centre Building (4th floor, room 413-414)
      16 Hans Strijdom Avenue Lane, Cape Town 8001

      Office phone number: 0214182838

      Kind Regards,
      PASSOP

    • Hello Bridget,

      PASSOP works with protecting and fighting for the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and immigrants, so if you or your domestic worker fits within this category, you may stop by our office and we can further assist you. Please make sure to bring all documentation and letters which are necessary for us to make a proper judgement.

      Our address is Tulbagh Centre Building (4th floor, room 413-414)
      16 Hans Strijdom Avenue Lane, Cape Town 8001

      Office phone number: 0214182838

      Kind Regards,
      PASSOP

  4. Hi. I took a voluntary retrenchment at word in Dec. But until now I have not find another job. my domestic worker has been working for us about 2 years. She sleeps in and work 5 days a week. She is registered for UIF although we do not have a contract that is signed with her. I want to give her two options. Either I retrench her with 1 months salary extra or she can work 2 days a week for a reduce pay and not sleep in anymore. Can you please give advice on how to treat the situation. Thank you

    • Hello Marlene,

      Are you based in Cape Town?

      PASSOP protects and fights for the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and immigrants, so if your domestic worker fits within this category, we may assist them. A contract is necessary for both parties as well as a 3 month notice of termination. Otherwise we advise that you contact a lawyer or legal assistant within Cape Town.

      If you would like further assistance, please stop by our office

      Tulbagh Centre Building (4th floor, room 413-414)
      16 Hans Strijdom Avenue Lane, Cape Town 8001

      Office phone number: 0214182838

      Thank you!

      Kind Regards,
      PASSOP

    • Hello Victor!
      Thank you for your comment.

      Please come by and visit our office at:
      Tulbagh Centre Building (4th floor, room 413-414)
      16 Hans Strijdom Avenue Lane, Cape Town 8001

      Office phone number: 0214182838

  5. Hi
    My domestic worker works twice a week for me and has no written contract. She also will onlly be working for 6 months at the end of October. She is now 10 weeks pregant. I am also expecting our first, 8 weeks now. I unfortunately can’t keep her as she will be on maternity leave at the same time as me. And I need someone then full time to help me and look after my baby when I’m going back to work. Can I let her go? Or what is the right thing to do? Please help as this is a very difficult and sad situation.

    • Hi Ezmari,

      Thank you for your comment! PASSOP is devoted to protecting and fighting for the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and immigrants and if you fit into this category, we may be able to help you. Unfortunately we do not give paralegal advice online and therefore if you need more assistance and in order to understand your situation better, it would be best if you stop by our office in Cape Town so that you may speak with one of our paralegal advisors about your current situation. If you are South African or not asylum-seeking, we suggest that you contact other professional lawyers in Cape Town.

      We are located at:
      Tulbagh Centre Building (4th floor, room 413-414)
      16 Hans Strijdom Avenue Lane, Cape Town 8001

      Office phone number: 0214182838

      Kind Regards,
      PASSOP

  6. I am working one day per week = 8 hours. How many days leave are due to me in a 12 month period? Does my employer need to register me for UIF?

    • Hi Helen,

      Thank you for your comment!

      PASSOP is devoted to protecting and fighting for the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and immigrants and if you fit into this category and feel as if you need assistance with your current work situation, we may be able to help you. In order to understand your situation better, it would be best if you stop by our office in Cape Town so that you may speak with one of our paralegal advisors about your current situation.

      We are located at:
      Tulbagh Centre Building (4th floor, room 413-414)
      16 Hans Strijdom Avenue Lane, Cape Town 8001

      Office phone number: 0214182838

      Kind Regards,
      PASSOP

  7. Hi i have moved to a house thats costing me more than 3x my previous house costed me and i cant afford to keep my domestic worker full time anymore. ..I have found her alternative employment and i would like to know if she’s entitled to severance pay even though i told her that i would call her 2 days a week…if she is entitled to severance pay how much is she entitled to get …i have read the regulations regarding this but she says that the peple at ccma told her that if she’s worked for 5yrs then i must her pay her 1 months salary for every year but i understand that she’s entitled to 1 weeks salary for every 12months worked if her services were terminated and if she hasn’t found another job…please adivise…

    • Hello Elaine,

      Thank you for your comment!

      I am very sorry for your current situation but unfortunately we do not give legal advice online and therefore in order to understand your situation better, it would be best if you could stop by or call our office. PASSOP is devoted to protecting and fighting for the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and immigrants and if you fit into this category, we may be able to help you. In order to understand your situation better, it would be best if you stop by our office in Cape Town so that you may speak with one of our paralegal advisors about your current situation. Please remember to bring all proper identification and documents with you at all times.

      We are located at:
      Tulbagh Centre Building (4th floor, room 413-414)
      3 Hans Strijdom Avenue Lane, Cape Town 8001

      Office phone number: 0214182838

      We look forward to hearing from you!

      Kind Regards,
      PASSOP

  8. my maid stole from me a few months ago. i confronted her and she confessed doing it. Her husband died shortly thereafter resulting in me feeling sorry for her and not dismissing her at the time. Since the she has been dishonest on two other occasions – using the tumble dryer and of late the dishwasher after I gave specific instructions for her not to. Can I dismiss her with 4 weeks notice?

    • Hello Yolanda,

      Thank you for your comment!

      Unfortunately we do not give legal advice online and therefore in order to understand your situation better, it would be best if you could stop by or call our office. PASSOP is devoted to protecting and fighting for the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and immigrants and if you fit into this category, we may be able to help you. In order to understand your situation better, it would be best if you stop by our office in Cape Town so that you may speak with one of our paralegal advisors about your current situation. Please remember to bring all proper identification and documents with you at all times.

      We are located at:
      Tulbagh Centre Building (4th floor, room 413-414)
      3 Hans Strijdom Avenue Lane, Cape Town 8001

      Office phone number: 0214182838

      We look forward to hearing from you!

      Kind Regards,
      PASSOP

  9. Hello,

    I live in Johannesburg.
    My domestic worker has been working for me for 15 years (twice a week). We have a contract and UIF is fully paid up to date.
    I am a single income earner and financial problems have been creeping up and I am trying to figure things out the fair way.

    1. I may not be able to pay a Christmas bonus. Is this an issue?
    2. I may not be able to increase the salary for next year.
    3. If I find her alternative employment with comparable or better salary, do I pay severance pay?
    4. If she chooses to leave, do I pay severance pay?

    Any advice is much appreciated.

    Many Thanks

  10. hi
    I have problem with my employer. i agreed with her when i start to work with her. she promised that they will start me with R800.00 then after some months she start to pay me R1000.00. I am cleaning 15 roomed house and i also washing her Toys and now she is complaining that i am not cleaning perfect and she also want me to wash the windows also. my problem is one i cant read and write. last fortnight she left R700.00. where she supposed to pay R1000.00 as i get it every fortnight. now i don’t know what to do. please help guys.

    • Hello Enikana,

      Unfortunately we do not give paralegal advice online and in order to understand your case better, it would be best if you stop by our office. PASSOP is dedicated to fighting for the rights of asylum seekers, immigrants, and refugees and often give paralegal advice on applying for asylum and writing appeal letters. If you feel as if your have been mistreated at your work and would like some paralegal advice, please stop by our office located at:

      Tulbagh Centre Building (4th floor, room 413-414)
      3 Hans Strijdom Avenue Lane, Cape Town 8001

      Office phone number: 0214182838

      Kind Regards,
      Emma Burr Nyberg
      The PASSOP Team

  11. I live in area A, my helper works 25 hours a week. Is it right of her ro demand the minimum wage plus transport fare on a daily basis? Is there a law that we ought to pay transport fare for helpers?

    • Hi Jay,
      Thank you for your comment!

      PASSOP is devoted to protecting and fighting for the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and immigrants and if you fit into this category and feel as if you need assistance with the current situation, it would be best if you stop by our office. If you need some paralegal advice, please stop by our office located at:

      Tulbagh Centre Building (4th floor, room 413-414)
      3 Hans Strijdom Avenue Lane, Cape Town 8001

      Office phone number: 0214182838

      Kind Regards,
      Emma Burr Nyberg
      The PASSOP Team

  12. Domestic worker been with us about 2yrs, once a week for 8 hours or less when she comes late which is every time.

    How would we terminate her employee as she ignores verbal warnings. She claims to be unable to read

    • Hi Defib,
      Thank you for your comment!

      I am very sorry for your current situation but unfortunately we do not give legal advice online and therefore in order to understand your situation better, it would be best if you could stop by or call our office. PASSOP is devoted to protecting and fighting for the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and immigrants and if you fit into this category, we may be able to help you. In order to understand your situation better, it would be best if you stop by our office in Cape Town so that you may speak with one of our paralegal advisors about your current situation. Please remember to bring all proper identification and documents with you at all times. If you feel as though you need additional advice, I would suggest contacting a lawyer.

      We are located at:
      Tulbagh Centre Building (4th floor, room 413-414)
      3 Hans Strijdom Avenue Lane, Cape Town 8001

      Office phone number: 0214182838

      Kind Regards,
      Emma Burr Nyberg
      The PASSOP Team

  13. I had a domestic once every 2 weeks. Worked more or less 7 hours a day, including her lunch break. I got a message on Monday 14th November that she got a new work and starting the next day. She claims her previous work day wage of R150. Previously she burnt my cloths a carpet with the iron and broke two stainless steel dustbins. I hold back plus minus an amount of R100 for all the damages. Giving her a second chance every time. What do you suggest I do. Giver her the money?. Shouldn’t she give me notice somehow?. Just a thought would be nice.

    • Hello Mary,

      I am very sorry for your current situation but unfortunately we do not give legal advice online. PASSOP is devoted to protecting and fighting for the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and immigrants and if you fit into this category, we may be able to help you. If you feel as though you need additional advice, I would suggest contacting a lawyer.

      We are located at:
      Tulbagh Centre Building (4th floor, room 413-414)
      3 Hans Strijdom Avenue Lane, Cape Town 8001

      Office phone number: 0214182838

      Kind Regards,
      Emma Burr Nyberg
      The PASSOP Team

  14. From HS.l am a domestic worker l’ve been working for these people from september 2012 till now.they are paying me R3900 pm + R175 transport fee p/week .but my problem now l heard that they are selling the house ,it seems they want to leave the country but they dnt talk to me about it .l want to resign before they go .please assist me about how much they will need to pay me
    thank you**.

    • Hello,

      Thank you for your comment! Are you located in Cape Town?

      I am very sorry for your current situation but unfortunately we do not give legal advice online and therefore in order to understand your situation better, it would be best if you could stop by or call our office. PASSOP is devoted to protecting and fighting for the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and immigrants and if you fit into this category, we may be able to help you.

      In order to understand your situation better, it would be best if you stop by our office in Cape Town so that you may speak with one of our paralegal advisors about your current situation. Please remember to bring all proper identification and documents with you at all times.

      We are located at:
      Tulbagh Centre Building (4th floor, room 413-414)
      3 Hans Strijdom Avenue Lane, Cape Town 8001

      Office phone number: 0214182838

      Kind Regards,
      Emma Burr Nyberg
      The PASSOP Team

  15. Hi there,

    I have a domestic worker who works twice a week for 6 hours
    She has no formal contract, as she was always going to be filling in for my maid of severuyeRs who needed to take several months off post Op, for convellesance.
    She takes 7 or 8 smoking breaks during this time, as well as at least 2 or 3 tea stops
    And time to eat.
    She is perpetually late even though we both live in Hout Bay & although I have tried to
    sit her down to talk through work not completed, she now hangs around the house with gritted teeth
    so much so that I don’t want to be in my home when she is here.

    Can you advise/ refer me?
    She has a South African ID

    Thanks,
    Hazel

    • Hello Hazel,

      I am very sorry for your current situation but unfortunately we do not give legal advice online. PASSOP is devoted to protecting and fighting for the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and immigrants and if you fit into this category, we may be able to help you. If you feel as though you need additional advice, I would suggest contacting a lawyer.

      We are located at:
      Tulbagh Centre Building (4th floor, room 413-414)
      3 Hans Strijdom Avenue Lane, Cape Town 8001

      Office phone number: 0214182838

      Kind Regards,
      Emma Burr Nyberg
      The PASSOP Team

  16. Good day.
    I would like to know, I pay my domestic worker the required rate once a week for 8 hours. I also provide her meals and drinks during the day. Should I pay her taxi fee also or should it come from her Salary of the day.
    Regards

    • Hello Joane,

      I am very sorry for your current situation but unfortunately we do not give legal advice online. PASSOP is devoted to protecting and fighting for the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and immigrants and if you fit into this category, we may be able to help you. Ultimately though, the way you treat this situation is all up to you. If you feel as though you need additional advice, I would suggest contacting a lawyer.

      We are located at:
      Tulbagh Centre Building (4th floor, room 413-414)
      3 Hans Strijdom Avenue Lane, Cape Town 8001

      Office phone number: 0214182838

      Kind Regards,
      Emma Burr Nyberg
      The PASSOP Team

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