Like most countries, South Africa is struggling to find jobs for its citizens. Aside from the problems of unemployment, there is another set of problems among those employed. Many are receiving minimum wage because they are semi-skilled or unskilled. South Africa sets minimum wage based on area and not on a nationwide scale.

Under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act or BCEA, minimum wage benefits those who are most vulnerable to abuses by employers. Thus under BCEA there are minimum wages for domestic workers, contractual cleaners, private security guards, farm workers, taxi drivers, wholesale and retail sellers, those working in parks and forestry, those under a Learnership program, and minor working in TV, theater, advertising, and other similar activities.

Minimum wage is reviewed every year and employers are encouraged to upgrade the pay scale of their employees based on working hours, job function, and years with the employer. Under the wage system of the country the sectoral minimum wage is determined by the Minister of Labor while the statutory system is done through Bargaining Councils.  About 40% of South Africans are getting minimum wage and as many as 45% of employers disregard and do not abide by the minimum wage law according to an investigation done by the Department of Labor.

Pay Discrimination

Aside from the issues hounding minimum wage law like non-compliance and corruption within the system, there are also many problems related to pay discrimination. For instance, male workers tend to be given more compensation than female workers or employers choose applicants based on gender even if it is against the law to do so. Under the Bill of Rights in the Constitution, gender pay gaps are illegal. No one should be discriminated and paid lower based on factors like gender, age, race, marital status, pregnancy, social origin, religion, language, sexual orientation, or disability.

Unfortunately, employers tend to put little value on the contributions of female skills such as social skills. It would not be unusual for a customer service female worker to be paid lower than a male doing physical labor.

Who Handles Work Discrimination Grievances?

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration or CCMA is the office to approach when a grievance against work discrimination is to be filed. However, the grievance must be filed within 6 months from the time the incident occurred or it will not be considered as valid. In some cases like dismissal from work, the time frame is only 30 days. The CCMA will encourage a resolution between the 2 parties through talks and if nothing is settled, and then the case is forwarded to the Labour Courts.

Common grievances lodged with the CCMA are unfair dismissal, poor working conditions, pay discrimination, low wages, and changes made at the workplace unfavorable to one party. CCMA does not charge for their services and neither do employees have to get consent from their employers. In cases where the employee is a member of a labor union, the union generally gets involved or even represents the employee.