Basic Conditions of Employment: Pay and Wages


  • No worker may be retaliated against for demanding the rights set out in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act
  • Senior managers, traveling sales staff, and those that work under 24 hours per month excluded, employees may not work for more than 12 hours of overtime each week
  • An extended weekend may be arranged by way of a compressed work week of no more than 12 hours per day
  • Any employee agreeing to work an 11pm to 6am shift must be debriefed on the health and safety risks, as well as compensated for regular medical examinations
  • Employer may not take annual leave hours away from employees while they are enjoying  special leave privileges such as maternity or sick leave 
  • Family responsibility leave may be taken on account of the birth or sickness of a child, or the death of a spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling
  • Deductions may only be made from an employee’s pay if they are agreed to in writing and are either a legal requirement, or part of a collective agreement, arbitration award or court order.
  • Four weeks notice must be provided employees of more than one year before termination of their labor contract
  • Employees must be permitted to challenge their dismissals on the basis of established labor policy
  • Collective agreements via the Bargaining Council may differ from the Act as long as worker protection is not reduced as regards health, safety, or family responsibilities
  • In addition to investigating complaints, Labor Inspectors must notify employees of their rights and responsibilities

Your Rights

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act applies to all employees and employers in South Africa except those who work for the National Defence Force and Intelligence Agencies, on vessels at sea and unpaid volunteers working for charities.

The Act does not cover:

  • Probationary periods; right of entry to the employers premises;  afternoons and weekends off; pension schemes; training or school fees; funeral benefits and savings accounts. However, all of these can be negotiated and included in an employment contract.
  • There is also no provision which prevents any other conditions of employment being included in a contract but any provision that sets conditions which are less favourable than those set by the Act, will be considered INVALID.

Remuneration and Payment

An employer must pay an employee: 

  • in South African money;
  • daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly;
  • In cash, cheque or direct deposit.

Wages can be set in three ways:

  • In the statutory system of wage determination through the Bargaining Council;
  • Through sectoral determinations made by the Minister of Labour;
  • Or outside that system, in centralised and decentralised bargaining at company (single employer) and plant level.

Minimum Wages

There is NO national (statutory) Minimum Wage. However, the Minister of Labour can set minimum terms and conditions of employment, including Minimum Wages. Ministerial sectoral determinations are in place in the following sectors in South Africa:

  • Domestic work sector
  • Contract cleaning
  • Private security sector
  • Wholesale and retail
  • Farm worker sector
  • Forestry sector
  • Taxi sector
  • Learnerships
  • Children in the performance of advertising, artistic and cultural activities

The minimum wage amounts vary widely, according to location, functions, years of experience and working hours.

The Minister of Labour CANNOT publish a sectoral determination covering employees and employers who are already covered by a collective agreement concluded at a Bargaining Council.

Allowances, bonuses and increases

These are not regulated by Basic Conditions of Employment Act and are therefore open to negotiation between employer and employee. 


An employer may not make any deduction from an employee’s pay unless:

  • that worker agrees in writing;
  • the deduction is required by law or permitted in terms of a law (taxes and UIF contributions), collective agreement, court order or arbitration award. 

An employer may make a deduction to reimburse an employer for loss of damage only if:

  • the loss of damage occurred in the course of employment and was due to the fault of the employee;
  • the employer has followed a fair procedure and has given the employee a reasonable opportunity to show why the deductions should not be made;
  • the total amount of debt does not exceed the actual amount of the loss or damage;
  • And the total deductions from the employee’s remuneration do not exceed one-quarter of the employee’s remuneration.

Payslip information

An employee’s payslip must include:

  • employer's name and address
  • worker's name and job
  • period of payment
  • worker's pay
  • amount and purpose of any deduction made from the pay
  • actual amount paid to the worker.

If needed to add up the worker's pay, the payslip must also include:

  • ordinary pay rate and overtime pay rate
  • number of ordinary and overtime hours worked during that period of payment
  • number of hours worked on a Sunday or public holiday during that period
  • total number of ordinary and overtime hour worked in the period of averaging, if there is an averaging agreement.