South Africa flag South Africa: Operating a Business in South Africa

Work conditions in South Africa

The Active Population in Figures

Labour Force 22,948,48123,326,43021,742,744

Source: International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database

Total activity rate 60.10%59.96%60.13%
Men activity rate 66.43%66.19%66.31%
Women activity rate 53.89%53.85%54.07%

Source: International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database

For Further Statistics
Statistics South Africa
For Further Information About the Labour Market
South Africa Labour Law Profile

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Working Conditions

Legal Weekly Duration
45 hours in a week or 9 hours in a day. For employees who work a 6-day week, it is 8 hours per day.
Retirement Age
The retirement age is 65 for men and 60 for women.
Working Contracts
Employment is mainly regulated by contract law and by the Labour Relations Act (LRA), 66 of 1995. Employment contracts must clearly mention: the maximum hours of work allowed, overtime rates, minimum periods of annual leave, notice of termination, organisational rights regarding trade unions, strike laws, the rights and responsibilities of employers and workers in the event of a conflict, rules regarding insolvency and transfers of business, protection from unfair dismissal and the prohibition of unfair discrimination.
Labour Laws
Consult the Doing Business Website, to obtain a summary of the labour regulations that apply to local entreprises.

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Cost of Labour

Minimum Wage
The National Minimum Wage (NMW) for each ordinary hour worked is R23.19.
Average Wage
According to the latest survey by Stats SA, average monthly earnings were measured at R23,982 in the formal non-agricultural sector of the economy in November 2021. This is a 0.3% increase compared with August 2021, and an annual increase of 3.9%.
Social Contributions
Social Security Contributions Paid By Employers: South Africa does not have a comprehensive social security system or a national healthcare program; consequently, no significant social security taxes are levied.
Employers are obligated to make contributions to an unemployment insurance fund at the rate of 1% of gross remuneration.
Social Security Contributions Paid By Employees: 1% contribution of unemployement insurance fund.

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Social Partners

Employer Associations
NAFCOC - National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Social Dialogue and Involvement of Social Partners
For effective bargaining, South Africa has a Bargaining Council system. Bargaining takes place between the employers and trade unions under the auspices of the Bargaining Council. The collective agreements concluded in the Bargaining Council bind only the parties to the Bargaining Council.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is the largest and most effective trade union in South Africa. It is affiliated with the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party. COSATU represents 21 national industrial affiliates.

Labour Unions
FEDUSA (Federation of Unions of South Africa)
Unionisation Rate
30% (approximately)
Labour Regulation Bodies

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Latest Update: April 2024