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Five years on, domestic worker social coverage thrives

by lloyd last modified 2008-05-15 12:50

The Department of Labour has paid out close to R200 million in social security payments to temporarily unemployed domestic workers over the past five years.

Released by Department of Labour on 01 April 2008

The Department of Labour has paid out close to R200 million in social security payments to temporarily unemployed domestic workers over the past five years.


It was on April 1, 2003 that the Department first included domestic workers in the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), and today – five years later – scores of them continue to enjoy the social protection offered to millions of their fellow citizens.


The fund, which to date has registered more than 633 000 domestic workers, has been established to provide income support to unemployed workers during the period of unemployment.


Marking the 5th Anniversary of the inclusion of domestic workers with the UIF, the Minister of Labour, Membathisi Mdladlana, said today more than R395 million has been collected from the more than 556 000 domestic employers registered with the UIF since registration was opened in 2003.


Although registration was only formalised on April 1, 2003, the personal details of the first individual to register with the UIF were captured on Wednesday, February 26, 2003 during the pre-registration phase, ahead of the implementation of the registration drive.


“I can still recall the labour pains we had to go through during the early stages of the registrations of domestic workers as our officials were battling to cope with the unexpected influx of domestic employers who responded to the call to register their workers,” recalled the Minister.


“In January alone more than 1 500 new domestic employers were registered with the UIF, said Minister Mdladlana.


“It is indeed pleasing that close to half of the contributions collected from the domestic employers went towards cushioning the hardships of unemployment for domestic workers, he said. 


The Minister said that during the same period close to 324 000 domestic workers benefited from the UIF since the 2003 to date. Benefits paid to these workers included unemployment, illness, maternity, adoption and death benefit. On average the UIF receives more than 2000 applications for benefits from domestic workers per month.


“Let me emphasize that the introduction of the domestic sector to the social security net in April 2003 was solely intended to improve the lives of the most vulnerable workers who previously had no protection against the harsh treatment meted out to them by employers,” said Minister Mdladlana .


The Sectoral Determination for Domestic Workers covered all domestic workers, including housekeepers, gardeners, nannies and domestic drivers. The law helped to set the minimum wages, working hours, number of leave days and termination rules for the sector.


“Today we can look back with ease at the success we have achieved, in ensuring that we stabilize and regulate the industry that was plagued by abuse and disregard for workers rights.  Now domestic workers could enjoy regulated salary standards and improved working conditions which they were deprived of in the past”, Mdladlana explained.


While applauding domestic employers for ensuring that their workers enjoyed social protection, the Minister conceded that there were still challenges around payment of contribution to the UIF. He reminded employers that their obligation went beyond just registering their workers with the UIF, but also by making the regular 2 percent contribution and declaring details of their workers each time there were changes.


“Employers must know that they are obligated to make regular contributions and to update the Fund on any changes taking place in their employment.  The law is clear that failure to comply is a punishable offence.  Defaulters stand to be prosecuted, and if found guilty they will be fined and/or imprisoned,” warned Mdladlana.


As part of continuous improvements, the Fund has also introduced an online collection channel for the sector. He said the system, which is called uFiling, could be accessed on The system provides employers with a secure, convenient way of paying contributions and making declarations to the Fund.

Enquiries: Name Kgomotso Sebetso
Telephone 073 2699 870

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