Original Research

The impact of minimum wages for domestic workers in Bloemfontein, South Africa

Phillip F. Blaauw, Louis J. Bothma
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 8, No 1 | a216 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v8i1.216 | © 2010 Phillip F. Blaauw, Louis J. Bothma | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 May 2009 | Published: 15 March 2010

About the author(s)

Phillip F. Blaauw, Department of Economics & Economcs, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Louis J. Bothma, Department of Economics & Economcs, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


Orientation: The number of domestic workers in South Africa has decreased in the last decade, seemingly corresponding with efforts by government to increase regulation.

Research purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate possible structural changes in this labour market over the last decade, as well as the possible employment effects of the latest minimum wage provisions.

Motivation for the study: Previous studies on the topic were carried out either prior to, or just after, the implementation of the minimum wage legislation for domestic workers. Now, five years after implementation, the conclusions and predictions of these studies need to be evaluated.

Research design, approach and method: The study utilised a repeat survey in the suburb of Langenhoven Park in Bloemfontein, where two previous microstudies had been conducted. Structural interviews were conducted with a sample of 132 respondents and the data analysed.

Main findings: There are now fewer domestic workers working for more employers, than there were ten years ago. In contrast to predictions from the literature, these changes mostly occurred before the implementation of the legislation. Real wages and legislative compliance improved for those who remained employed.

Practical implications: The task of balancing the improvement of the lives of domestic workers and the possible adverse consequences of the legislation, in the form of job losses, remains as daunting as it was ten years ago.

Contribution: Literature predicts changes in the market for domestic workers to be long term. This study shows that most changes took place before the implementation of the legislation as employers decided on their course of action.


regulation; employment conditions; structural changes; compliance; employment effects


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