A new tool created by open data company Code4SA can help you determine if you are paying your domestic worker enough, given the financial realities faced by your domestic worker’s household.
Code for South Africa, a nonprofit created in 2013, aims to promote informed decision-making for social good through the use of data.
When it comes to South Africa’s domestic workers, many of whom are sole breadwinners, the organisation felt there was a disconnect between how homeowners set their wages, and the bare minimum needs of families on the ground.
“The issue of domestic workers’ salaries is the elephant in the room in South Africa. There are around a million domestic workers in the country and approximately one million employers,” said Code4SA director Adi Eyal.
“When employers decide to hire, they usually ask their friends and neighbours about the ‘going rate’ and then base the salary on that figure.
“But, even though someone is willing to work for a low figure, is it a fair wage?
“We decided that a calculator allowing the employer to make their own assumptions about the cost of living would be a useful tool.”
How does it work?
Using multiple variables which can be adjusted to your liking, the Living Wage calculator, aggregates a total monthly wage required for your domestic worker to support her household based on her family’s specific circumstances.
Some of these adjustable variables include the number of dependants in the household, transport costs, health care, housing and education — all of which contribute to calculating a “fair wage” for that household, either per day, per week or per month.
So for instance, in a household of three dependants, with a food budget of R27/day per person (based on the consumer price index of 2014), and travel costs of R14/day (based on an informal survey of domestic workers), the basic required pay for that household would come to R5 056/month, or roughly R230/day.
Were you to increase the number of dependants in that household from three to four, for example, the basic required pay then increases to R6 306/month, and so on.
This, as a bare minimum suggestion, is well above even the recommended minimum wage of R2 065,47/month set by the department of labour in December 2014 (for workers in a metropolitan area), a figure that does not take into account the needs specific to a given domestic worker’s life circumstances.
“Often the results are shocking. Personally, we increased our housekeeper’s salary by R800 as a result of the calculator,” Eyal continued.
“Rather than telling yet another shocking story about low wages, we wanted people to calculate their own figures and understand how well they match up against their ‘own’ assumptions.
“This calculator represents the essence of that goal and I hope that it contributes to fairer wage negotiations in the domestic worker sector,” added Eyal. — News24