Domestic worker

Domestic Worker / stockphoto

Domestic workers denied UIF by employers

Too many employers of domestic workers refuse to comply with the Unemployment Insurance Fund, leaving their employees seriously short changed.

Domestic worker

Domestic Worker / stockphoto

According to the department of labour by law all workers, including domestic workers employed for 24 hours or more in a month, must be registered for UIF. The worker should contribute one percent of their monthly wage and the employer an equal amount.

There are 663 759 domestic workers currently registered for UIF. According to Statistics South Africa there were 961 000 domestic workers as of September 2014 of which 927,000 are women. Unsurprisingly then, GroundUp found domestic workers who are not registered and whose employers refuse to register them.

Nobantu Kwinana, who worked as a sleep-in domestic worker in Blouberg for three years, was unfairly dismissed by her employer who also failed to register her with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).

“In September this year, I had to stay away from work because of a medical treatment … and in the same month my employers told me they have replaced me and were going to hire that person permanently,” said Kwinana.

According to Kwinana, when she asked her employers if she was getting any funds, she was told that they have never registered anyone for UIF and they didn’t have anything to give her.

She was earning R2,200 per month, which means had her employer registered, she would now have been entitled to R1,025 UIF per month for about nine months.

Kwinana laid a complaint with the South African Domestic Services and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU) on the 2 December after many attempts to get her employer to pay her funds.

Miriam Simmons, who is also a stay-in domestic worker, is similarly not registered for UIF, and she too says her employer refuses to do so.

“My employer does not want to register my name for UIF. I have been asking him to, but he says that he does not see the need because when I retire he will give me a sum,” said Simons.

Simons said that she is not comfortable with her employer’s decision and it is a pity she cannot register on her own, she said that SADSAWU was going to send someone to help her.

The two employees interviewed had not signed contracts with their employers. But SADSAWU organiser Sindiswa Ningiza, says that according to the CCMA, a verbal contract exists for an employee who has worked for more than three months.

Ningiza said that as a union they do not contact the department of labour but the employers, and they calculate the funds their own way.

She said they continually deal with cases where domestic workers experience dismissal or retirement and are sent away empty handed. Every month they deal with similar cases at the office with their members and meet some who are not members outside, they have the same problem but afraid to come forward because they are in fear of losing their jobs.

Words by Zintle Swana