What is Minimum Wage?
A Minimum Wage is the lowest hourly, daily or monthly wage that employers may legally pay employees or workers. It often applies to unskilled or semi-skilled workers in the service industry, in factories or manufacturing plants. In South Africa, the Minimum Wage is directed at those who are often most vulnerable in the workplace. There are special provisions, for example, for domestic workers and farm workers.
Minimum Wage rates may differ across geographical areas - for example, if one works in a city or rural environment. They may also differ in terms of pay periods (daily, monthly or yearly). In South Africa, Minimum Wages are usually set for a year.
Minimum Wages can be set by government, specifically the Department of Labour. Or they can be negotiated by unions and through collective bargaining agreements.
How did it start?
Minimum Wages were introduced in reaction to the growth of sweat shops, in the United States and other countries, which sprung up in the early 1900s. These sweat shops were largely controlled by the manufacturing industries, and employed many women and underage workers at very low wages. The Minimum Wage was introduced as a way to make employers pay "fairly".
- A Minimum Wage can improve the standard of living for the poorest and most vulnerable in society.
- A Minimum Wage can increase consumption, by giving more cash to low-income earners.
Do you have Decent Work? Read up on South African Labour Laws.