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Domestic workers wages to be adjusted

Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Hon Alphaeus Muheua. (Photograph by Melba Chipepo).

In an effort to uplift the plight of domestic workers in Namibia,the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare this week announced the introduction of a minimum wage for Namibia’s domestic workers. Despite contributing to the economy by providing supportive services to working people, domestic workers are some of the lowest paid and most under- recognized employees in the country. According to the 2012 Labour Force Survey, there are approximately 46 000 domestic workers in Namibia of whom approximately 12 000 are employed on farms. 71% of these domestic workers are female, 67%  of domestic workers earn less than N$1000 per month (compared to 19% for other categories of employees).

The survey also revealed that 45% of all domestic workers earn less than N$600 per month with some domestic workers earning N$200 or N$300 per month, 38% of domestic workers are the sole member of their family with an income. The overall monthly median wage for domestic workers is N$600 compared to N$2500 for other categories of employees, the median hourly earning for non-farm domestic workers is N$4.27 compared to N$5.90 for unskilled workers. The minimum wage will come into effect on April 1, 2015 and is expected to be gazetted on December 24 2014 as an official wage order by the Labour Minister Doreen Sioka. The monthly minimum wage of N$1 218 per month for domestic workers will be subject to an increase equivalent to the consumer price index plus five percent as of April 01, 2016.  The wage order will be supported by the full force of the law and be enforceable in the same manner as the basic conditions of employment contained in the Labour Act of 2007, which already covers domestic workers. In May 2012, then Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Immanuel Ngatjizeko, with the endorsement of Cabinet, appointed a Wages Commission pursuant to the Labour Act, 2007 to investigate the situation of domestic workers and to make recommendations to the Minister on minimum remuneration and conditions of employment for domestic workers. The commission submitted its report to the Minister, and the minister then commenced an extensive process of internal scrutiny and consultation on the recommendations.
The minister’s decision to adopt the recommendations of the commission was submitted to cabinet for endorsement in December 2013. There after ministry officials drafted the Wage Order, which includes a standard contract of employment, the documents were certified by the government’s legal drafters and will appear in the Gazette on 24 December. Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Alphaus Muheua said the minimum wage can help contribute to the health, education and well-being of the families of domestic workers, especially their children. “The main purpose of the minimum wage is to begin a process of achieving decent work for domestic workers and enable them to eventually emerge from poverty wages. The minimum wage  should enable domestic workers to enjoy a decent standard of living,” he said. He also said that on April 1 2016 the minimum wage shall be increased to an amount equivalent to the increase in the consumer price index plus 5% and that the minimum wage must be reviewed after the second increase. As of 1 April 2015 the minimum wages for domestic workers will be as follows: N$1 218 per month for a full time domestic worker, N$281.09 per week, N$56.21 per day, N$7.02 per hour, N$10.53 per hour overtime, N$14.04 per hour Sunday, holidays. The minimum wage based on domestic work as industry and not based on the type of work or tasks performed.

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