More farmers want wage exemption

A total of 1 987 farmers sought exemption from the wage determination for farm workers between February and April, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant has said.

“Out of the total applications received, 18 applications affecting 4 991 workers were granted during April 2013,” Oliphant said in a written reply to a parliamentary question.

In February, the minister announced the new minimum wage for farmworkers was R105 a day.

The new rate, which was R36 more than the minimum wage of R69 a day, took effect from March 1.

An exemption from the new minimum wage was available to farmers who could prove their financial situation was such that they would be forced to shut down operations if their wage bill rose accordingly.

In February, the department received 799 applications and in March, 1 019.

“No applications were granted or refused [in March]… as income statements and balance sheets were requested from applicants… [along with] proof of consultation and sworn statements, stating that none of the employees belong to a registered trade union, should no union be involved,” Oliphant said.

She said financial information was received and applications were forwarded to the finance division for analysis and recommendation.

There were delays in the process because applicants had to be given reasonable time to submit the information.

In April, 169 applications were received. Three applications affecting 735 workers were refused that month because of affordability.

Oliphant said a further 458 applications involving 31 074 workers were refused. This was also because the relevant information was not submitted.

A total of 505 applications which submitted the additional information, as requested, were referred for recommendation and affordability.

“None of the applications received fully complied with the prescribed conditions on first submission,” she said.

The average time for a decision to be made on an application was between eight and 12 weeks.

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