Working hours and minimum wages of farm workers

For all employers in the agricultural sector, Sectoral Determination 13 relating to farm workers must be taken into account when considering working hours and wages of your farm workers.

Sectoral Determination 13 defines a “farm worker” as any person who is involved in farming activities, including a general worker on a farm, all domestic workers who work in a house on a farm and also a security guard (not employed in the private security industry) who is employed to guard the farm and areas where farming activities takes place. 

The following is a brief overview of the working hours and minimum wages applicable to such farm workers: 

Ordinary working hours 

Ordinary working hours of a farm worker are the following: 

•     45 hours in any given week; and

•     nine hours on any day if a farm worker works for five days or less in a week;  or

•     eight hours in any day if farm worker works more than five days in any week. 

Extension of working hours 

The working hours of farm workers can be extended by written agreement between the worker and his employer. This means that the farm worker’s ordinary hours can be extended by not more than five hours per week for a period of not more than four months in any continuous period of twelve months and within the same twelve month period, the same amount of hours can be reduced. 

For example, if the employer extends the farm worker’s hours by four hours per week for a period of three months (from January until March) in any twelve month period between 1 January to 31 December 2015, then the Employer must also reduce the farm worker’s hours by four hours per week for a period of three months within the same twelve month period. For example:  reduced working months may then be from April to June 2015. This reduction has the effect of reducing the worker’s normal working hours during these reduced months.

It must be kept in mind that the Sectoral Determination states that a farm worker’s ordinary working hours may not be extended to more than ten hours on any working day. 

In respect of the payment of wages during the extension and/or reduction of working hours, the employer must pay the farm worker the same/normal amount they would have received for the farm worker’s ordinary hours of work. This means that if the worker’s normal wage is R2,606.78 a month, even when the hours have been extended or reduced, the worker must continue to earn the same amount. 

Compressed working week 

A compressed working week occurs when an agreement is reached in writing by a farm worker and employer for the farm worker to work up to 12 hours in a day (inclusive of a meal break) without receiving overtime. 

There are specific conditions which must be met when such an agreement is made, such as that the farm worker must not be allowed to work: 

•     More than 45 ordinary working hours in any week;

•     More than 10 hours’ overtime in any week;  or

•     On more than five days in any week. 

Minimum wage for farm workers 

Across the board and irrespective of the area where the farm worker works, as of 1 March 2015 until 29 February 2016, farm workers are entitled to receive the following minimum wages in respect of the following periods: 

•           Monthly –  R2,606.78

•           Weekly –  R601.61 (for employees who works nine hours per day)

•           Daily     –  R120.32

•           Hourly   –  R13.37 

An employer must pay a farm worker in South African currency, either daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly and in cash, cheque or by direct deposit into the designated farm worker’s account. 

As working hours and wages can be of a sensitive nature, it is advisable for employers to approach a labour specialist to help ensure your compliance with Sectoral Determination 13 for farm workers.

April 14, 2015
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