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5 ways to help your domestic worker through these tough economic times

Life is expensive…inflation is eating into people’s monthly budgets, making reaching pay day more and more challenging. 

These tough economic times are especially hard for those who are in the lower-income bracket – the ones who take care of our homes, our gardens, our children and our elderly parents…domestic workers. 

Four out of five domestic workers in SA are sole breadwinners supporting, on average, four or more dependants. Those who have managed to hold on to their jobs (28% reported being retrenched in the last year) are struggling, with 35% reportedly being in debt. For many, the only way to get through the month, is to cut down or even cut out certain basic food items, which leads to serious malnutrition and stunted growth amongst their children. 

Help lighten your domestic worker’s financial burden by considering these five tips:  

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  • Be fair and pay a living wage: Check the current minimum wage requirements and make sure to pay at least that, or more, if your budget allows for it. Contributing to UIF for your domestic worker is part of being a compliant employer. Adhering to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and making sure that they receive the prescribed number of annual sick leave days is also critical. Docking pay for days not worked leads to huge financial pressure.  
  • Money for a rainy day: If you are able, put a little money aside each month for your domestic worker’s retirement or for their children’s education. It will soon mount up and may make an enormous difference just when they need it.
  • It doesn’t have to be financial: If you are unable to give your domestic worker a pay rise and put extra cash in their pocket, try and contribute to their household income in other ways. Take advantage of bulk buy offers on meat, fruit, and vegetables, for example, and split them between your family and theirs. Because of space, transport and financial constraints, your domestic worker almost certainly is not in a position to bulk buy, so helping in this way will have a real impact on their budget and health. Buying cell phone data or airtime or topping up pre-paid electricity are other helpful tangible benefits you can offer.
  • Donate pre-loved items: Be thoughtful when disposing of clothing, unwanted gifts or household items for which you no longer have any use. They may benefit your domestic worker, so ask first if she is able to use or sell them.
  • Upskill your domestic worker: According to Sweep South’s 2023 report, 42% of domestic workers supplement their income with other work. Ask your employee if there is a skill that would help with a ‘side hustle’ and a secondary income stream. It might be basic or financial literacy skills, cooking or a recognised childcare course. Find it, enroll them and, if possible, fund them through a course that will give them additional skills for life.

For more information on how you can assist your domestic worker, visit SweepSouth.

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