The National Minimum Wage Act Now in Play

The National Minimum Wage Act (NMWA) has come into effect as of 1 January 2019 and provides for, amongst others, a national minimum wage; the establishment of the National Minimum Wage Commission; a review and annual adjustment of the national minimum wage; and the provision of an exemption from paying the national minimum wage.



The NMWA applies to all workers and their employers, except members of the SA National Defence Force, the National Intelligence Agency, the SA Secret Service; and volunteers who perform work for another without remuneration. It applies to any person who works for another and who receives, or is entitled to receive, any payment for that work whether in money or in kind.



The national minimum wage is R20 for each ordinary hour worked. There are, however, certain exceptions to the national minimum wage amount of R20 per hour.

For example, farm workers are entitled to a minimum wage of R18 per hour. A “farm worker” means a worker who is employed mainly or wholly in connection with farming or forestry activities, and includes a domestic worker employed in a home on a farm or forestry environment and a security guard on a farm or other agricultural premises, excluding a security guard employed in the private security industry.



The calculation of the minimum wage is the amount payable in money for ordinary hours of work. It excludes:

  • Any payment made to enable a worker to work, including any transport, equipment, tool, food or accommodation allowance, unless specified otherwise in a sectoral determination;
  • Any payment in kind including board or accommodation, unless specified otherwise in a sectoral determination;
  • Gratuities including bonuses, tips or gifts; and
  • Any other prescribed category of payment.


“Ordinary hours of work” means the hours of work permitted in terms of section 9 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 (BCEA) (which is currently 45 hours per week) or in terms of any agreement in terms of section 11 or 12 of the BCEA. A worker is entitled to receive the national minimum wage for the number of hours that the worker works on any day. An employee who works for less than four hours on any day must be paid for four hours on the day. This is applicable to employees or workers who earn less than the earnings threshold set by the Minister over time, presently R205 433.30. If the worker is paid on a basis other than the number of hours worked, the worker may not be paid less than the national minimum wage for the ordinary hours of work.

Any deduction made from the remuneration of a worker must be in accordance with section 34 (1)(a) of the BCEA, provided that the deduction does not exceed one quarter of a worker’s remuneration.



Every worker will be entitled to payment of a wage not less than the national minimum wage. Employers will be obligated to pay workers this wage. In other words, the payment of the national minimum wage cannot be waived and overrides any contrary provision in a contract, collective agreement, sectoral determination or law.

  • By: Zinhle Mavuso (Candidate Attorney)


NB: This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. You are advised to consult with us before using/relying on this information.

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