Wage Board

The Wage Act, 1957, established a Wage Board to investigate wages and working conditions in specific industries, trades and undertakings in specified areas.

Wage Board

Investigating wages

The Wage Act, 1957, established a Wage Board to investigate wages and working conditions in specific industries, trades and undertakings in specified areas.

After investigation, recommendations are made to the relevant minister of state which are generally published as a wage determination. These wage determinations provide for minimum wages and working conditions in specified industries, trades or undertakings in specific areas. Contravention of a wage determination is a criminal offence.

The Wage Board consists of three members appointed by the Minister of Labour, one of whom is designated as chairperson. Only the minister can request it to investigate any trade.

The Wage Board hearing

The board must publish a notice in the government gazette, inviting representations from interested persons. These representations must be submitted in writing and normally in triplicate.

It is usual for the trade union or the employers concerned to include in their representations facts regarding the increase in the cost of living, the decrease in real wages, the increase in profitability and proposals for improving working conditions. The board then conducts a hearing at which the employers and unions concerned can supplement their written representations with relevant oral argument and additional evidence.


The board then submits a recommendation to the minister for possible publication as a determination. In making its recommendation, the board must take into consideration:

  • The representations made to it by the interested parties;
  • Any investigations it has made into the industry, trade or undertaking concerned;
  • Any information made available to it by the Board of Trade and Industries;
  • The ability of employers in the trade to carry on their business successfully;
  • The cost of living in any area in which the trade concerned is carried on;
  • The value of any board, rations or other benefits supplied by the employer to employees in the trade concerned;
  • Every other prescribed matter.

The Minister of Labour can (but is not obliged) to make a determination in accordance with a recommendation of the Wage Board. In practice, however, the minister usually publishes the recommendations of the Wage Board as a wage determination.

A wage determination comes to an end only when it is cancelled by the minister or superseded by a new one. A wage determination will not apply to any worker in respect of any matter regulated by an industrial council agreement or an award made by an arbitrator in terms of the Labour Relations Act, 1995. In most cases all matters dealt with by a wage determination are covered by a bargaining councils or statutory councilsagreement.

In certain circumstances, however, it is conceivable that a provision in a wage determination might not be included in a council agreement. For example, a council agreement might not provide for workers to be given overalls, whereas a wage determination might have such a provision.

Provided that both wage-regulating measures overlap and cover the same person, the provision in respect of the overalls would apply, although that employee is also covered by a bargaining or statutory council agreement.

Source: Reader’s Digest’s You and Your Rights

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