27/03/2018 06:09 BST | Updated 27/03/2018 06:09 BST

Minimum Wage Implementation Date Pushed Back

Government says Parliament is still processing submissions on the new legislation, and it will not be ready by May 1.

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South African Minister of Labour Mildred Nelisiwe Oliphant at the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers' meeting in Ankara, Turkey on September 03, 2015.

It's unlikely that government will meet the deadline set by then-deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa for the implementation of the new minimum wage of May 1, Eyewitness News reported. Labour minister Mildred Oliphant was reported saying this at a media briefing at Parliament in Cape Town on Monday evening.

Oliphant says the process is now in the hands of Parliament, which has been hearing public submissions on the various pieces of legislation that will ultimately give effect to the new minimum wage being implemented. But that process is nowhere near completion, and it is hoped that MPs might have completed their consultations by the middle of the year, Oliphant said.

Parliament is going into recess this week, adding to the delay.

"At this stage, we must all accept and allow the parliamentary processes to unfold without any undue interference. All the bills are now under the authority of Parliament, and those who have views and opinions on the bills will have to approach Parliament, as we as the executive no longer have control of these processes," she reportedly said.

According to Fin24, there are still some points of contention regarding the agreement reached between government and the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) about five months ago that led to the new minimum wage of about R20 an hour being agreed upon. Ramaphosa led those negotiations.

One of these was a concern raised by researchers in their submission to Parliament last week, that the abolition of sectoral determination was not in the bill that Parliament had before it, according to Fin24.

Under the new legislation, it is reportedly envisaged that farm workers and domestic workers will get R18 an hour and R12 an hour respectively, and that this will be raised to R20 an hour in two years' time.

Oliphant reportedly said that the Nedlac process had slowed down the process significantly. Now the earliest available sitting of the National Assembly is at the end of April. After that, the National Council of Provinces must still consider the bill, she said.

After this process, regulations to the bill must be prepared and promulgated, according to TimesLive.

Business Unity SA reportedly agreed that the May 1 implementation date was premature, as the new system had to include regulations on how employers could apply for exemptions if they cannot afford to pay the new minimum wage, which must first be drafted and promulgated.

Last week, researchers reportedly said that the removal of sectoral determinations, which regulate the wages of non-unionised sectors, would hit farm workers hardest. A researcher with the National Minimum Wage Research Initiative at the University of the Witwatersrand, Gilad Isaacs, said the determinations were an important tool to protect vulnerable workers, according to Business Day.