Efforts to be stepped up to ensure minimum wage is met


18-July-2012

Minister Idith Alexander said this during a recent National Assembly session when she answered employment-related questions put forward by leader of the opposition in the assembly David Pierre, Wilby Lucas, Murielle Marie and Melval Dugasse.

As many private sector companies are not paying the minimum wage – R21 per hour for workers on a contract or doing part-time and R24.20 for casual labour workers – Minister Alexander said action will be taken against them.

“My ministry will intensify its efforts to investigate companies more regularly and those caught breaking the law will be asked to rectify the issue. In cases where companies refuse or do not comply, my ministry has the power to take legal action against them. If found guilty, the employer could face fines ranging from R1,000 to R10,000. If the situation still persists, the employer could face a penalty of R200 per day for each day that he/she is guilty of breaking the law,” she said.

With 664 work places inspected since the start of the year, the minister said 34 employees have been found not to be paying minimum wage.

“My ministry has already given them instructions to correct the irregularities in the salaries, and we will be inspecting their payrolls to ensure they have followed through,” she said.
Any worker who is not being paid minimum wage has the lawful right to register a case with the employment department.

Attention was also drawn to employers in the hotel industry whom the National Assembly said are deducting the employees’ money for tax from bonuses and service charge, a move which is not permissible under tax laws.

She said the labour department has not received any case – from our inspections or even from a personal complainant – of an employer deducting tax from service charge or bonuses.

“I am also making an appeal to employees to come forward and report any employer who is carrying out such mal-practices, and through our inspections of payrolls we will find if there is any such activity going on in a work place and we will get the employer to refund the worker all the money deducted.”

Minister Alexander also said her ministry recognises that the number of unemployed youths benefitting from the welfare system is a problem and that it is working on a plan to decentralise its services to be closer to young people.

“With the help of various partners, we will be working on a plan on how best to deal with the situation,” she said.

“We are also reviewing our employment schemes to give young people the opportunity to get a full-time job.”

Young people who are unemployed are however being told to consider opportunities which are already on offer, compared to waiting until something which they completely prefer comes their way.

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