In the South African landscape, the conditions of employment are contained in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA). The BCEA is a nucleus that regulates and gives effect to fair labour practices as envisioned by Section 23(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. The BCEA makes provision in terms of Sectoral Determination 13 to regulate the conditions of employment for farm workers.

What is a sectoral determination?

A sectoral determination is issued by the Minister of Employment and Labour, and it determines the minimum basic terms and conditions of employment which have been passed as acceptable conditions of employment practice in a specific sector. It encompasses the hours of work, overtime, payment for overtime, night work, standby, meal intervals, rest periods, and payment for work on Sundays and public holidays.

Who is regarded as a farm worker?

A farm worker is an employee who is employed in connection with farming activities and includes an employee who wholly or primarily performs domestic work in a home on a farm. An employee who is covered by a different Sectoral Determination, whether or not such persons work on the farm, is not regarded as a farm worker; this includes, inter alia, employees at a restaurant that is situated at the farm or security guards that are employed by a security company.

Is a contract of employment a prerequisite for an employer to be bound by Sectoral Determination 13?

Section 9 of the Sectoral Determination states that on commencement of the farm worker’s employment, the employer shall provide the farm worker with particulars of employment, which includes the identity of the employer, identity of the farmer work and scope of work for which they are hired, date of employment, hours and days of work, wages and method of payment, overtime, any other payments the employee is entitled to, notice period requirement when an employee terminates employment.

A formal contract of employment is highly recommended. It creates certainty on the terms and conditions of employment that will bind the employer and employee.

The employer can enter two types of contracts with a farm worker: a permanent contract for an indefinite term and a fixed-term contract for a specific period (seasonal work), which shall end on a predetermined date.

The Minister of Employment and Labour has recently increased the minimum wage for farm workers. As of 1 March 2023, the minimum wage for farm workers is R25,42 per hour. The employer is required to make the normal statutory deductions such as UIF and PAYE (if applicable).

Farming plays an integral part in our economy, and the rights of employers and their farm workers must be protected, and this is the purpose of Sectoral Determination 13.

Article By Simphiwe Ndaba

Dispute Resolution Official at Consolidated Employers Organisation (CEO SA)