While thousands of domestic and elementary workers have lost their jobs in the 12 months, the public service sector still has almost 130,000 vacant positions – including for cleaners, groundsmen and cooks, who stand to earn relatively well.
South Africa’s elementary and domestic workers make up almost a third of the country’s workforce, but employment statistics published by Stats SA show that these sectors have come under pressure over the past four quarters.
In the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey, Stats SA showed that unemployment in South Africa rose to 27.2% in Q2, with domestic workers, in particular, marking 45,000 jobs lost over the past 12 months.
Domestic workers are an incredibly vulnerable group of workers, whose livelihoods are heavily impacted not only by the direct effects of rising prices but also the lack of job security presented by economic effects on the middle class, which tend to be their employers.
Yet despite the job losses experienced in South Africa in the most recent quarter, the latest State of the Public Service report by the Public Service Commission (PMC) shows that there are still many vacancies in public service positions – including many positions for cleaners, gardeners and cooks.
130,000 public service jobs vacant
According to the PMC’s latest report, between January and March 2018, there were 1.3 million positions in public service, of which 1.2 million were filled – leaving around 129,000 positions vacant.
The vacancy rate at national level decreased to 6.2% which is an improvement from the previous quarter which was 7.6%. Nationally, the improvement is attributed to the reduction in the vacancies within the South African Police Service (SAPS) which was 9,146 vacancies in the previous quarter and now 4598 vacancies in the last quarter.
Other departments with improved statistics include the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) which was 1,943 and reduced to 1,781 as well as Human Settlements (186 vacancies in the previous quarter and 49 vacancies in the last quarter).
The province with the highest vacancy rate is still the Eastern Cape with 29,240 posts being vacant (21%) which is an improvement from the previous quarter which was 33,470 posts (23.4%). Within the Eastern Cape, the reason for the improvement from the previous quarter was due to critical posts in the Departments of Health and Education sectors being filled.
In the previous quarter, there were 30,645 vacancies in the Departments of Health and Education and in the last quarter, that was reduced to 27,228 vacancies which means that 3,417 posts were filled in these critical sectors ending March 2018.
The highest vacancy rate (66,790 posts – or 52%) is at administrative/operational level within the overall public service – which is salary levels 01-08. – while the second highest is at salary levels 9-12 (60,395 posts – or 47%), which is junior and middle management level and the level at which most employees have developed specialist skills.
Current public service jobs on offer
The Department of Public Service and Administration publishes a monthly circular detailing the job positions that are currently open to the wider job market.
In the latest circular (for August 2018), the details for several positions have been published, including a large number for cleaners, groundsmen and cooks, which are all level 2 earners.
In these positions, employees can expect to earn an annual salary of R96,549 – or roughly R8,000 a month.
According to the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa), R8,000 a month is the minimum salary a household needs to live a dignified life while eating a nutritionally complete diet in South Africa.
By comparison, data released by National Treasury in 2017 found that, on average, domestic workers earned as little as R1,100 a month in South Africa – well below the minimums set through sectoral determinations.
According to the figures set out by the Department of Labour in December 2017, domestic workers must get paid a minimum of R1,641 up to R2,545 in 2018, depending on which area you live in.
This will change once the National Minimum Wage kicks in, which, once implemented, will push the minimum up to just over R2,600.
A recent poll run by BusinessTech found that most South Africans employed a domestic worker for less than R2,500 a month, with the next most common pay range is between R2,500 and R3,500 a month.
The latest circular for public service jobs can be found below.