domestic workerThe Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel as well as the Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, have both clarified a long standing question for South Africans during the lockdown, being, when will Domestic Workers be able to return to work? Both Ministers have advised in their respective briefings to the media last week that Domestic Workers may return to work on Monday 1 June 2020, when level 3 of the lockdown will be phased in.

This announcement would be welcomed by many South Africans who have been vocal about the difficulties of not having their Domestic Workers assist them during the lockdown and equally welcomed by Domestic Workers who have been without work for over 60 days and further whom have not been paid due to the no work no pay provision in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997. Many Employers have continued to pay their Domestic Workers an ex gratia payment during lockdown, however some Employers have not been able to do so as they themselves have had financial trouble as a result of the lockdown.

Furthermore, due to the uncertainty of when the lockdown would allow Domestic Workers to return to work, many Employers regrettably had to retrench their Domestic Workers. If retrenchment was finalized nothing prevents the Employer from contacting their Domestic Worker during level 3 and offering them re-employment. However, it is strongly advised that Employers, if re-employing their Domestic Workers, mention to their Domestic Workers that despite re-employment on level 3, the Government may place any area in South Africa back on level 4 or level 5 and Domestic Workers accordingly would then not be able to continue work once again, unless otherwise stated by Government. We would advise that a new contract of employment be entered into which makes provision for such an occurrence. What is more, Employers bear the onus of ensuring that the working environment in the home is safe by supplying all the necessities to ensure safety, inclusive but not limited to, hand sanitizer, masks and personal protective equipment. Employers should ensure their Domestic Workers are screened daily in compliance with the Department of Employment and Labour’s Health and Safety regulations and have been trained in respect of Health and Safety.

Should you require any legal assistance in this regard please contact [email protected] – we can assist you with the daily screening process of your Domestic Worker, training for your Domestic Worker, as well as advice regarding permits to travel to work which your Domestic Worker may require.

There is no prescribed permit for domestic workers. We have therefore created a sample permit, which only aims to prove the employment relationship.  To download your free sample click here.

Should you wish to read more about the legal issues surrounding payments to Domestic Workers during lockdown prior to level 3 in respect of the Employer’s obligations and rights regarding payments to their Domestic Workers written by the writer hereof, click on the following link: