Salons, still closed for lockdown, must now pay all staff bonuses under a bargaining deal

Business Insider SA
A bad hair day
  • Labour minister Thulas Nxesi on Friday extended a bargaining deal in the beauty and haircare sector to non-parties, making it binding on every salon in South Africa.
  • That means increases in minimum salaries for hairdressers, barbers, nail technicians, massage therapist, skin care experts, and support staff.
  • It also means that non-party beauty establishments must make "ex gratia" bonus payments to staff at the end of June.
  • There is still no indication that salons will be open yet at the end of June – or any time in the foreseeable future.
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Salons, barber shops, and beauty establishments remain closed for services under Alert Level 3 – but some just became liable for "ex gratia" payments to staff at the end of June.

On Friday labour minister Thulas Nxesi extended a bargaining deal reached in the National Bargaining Council for the Hairdressing, Cosmetology, Beauty, and Skincare Industry in March to non-parties by notice in the Government Gazette

That will now see the agreement extent to all employers and employees in the industry as of Monday, 22 June.

The agreement deals, sometimes in great detail, with the treatment of apprentices and staff. It requires beauty establishments to either be run by or employ at least one qualified hairdresser, barber, nail technician, or similar expert, and lays out maximum working hours for casual employees.

It also contains stipulations such as that commission-only employees must receive at least the national minimum wage.

The agreement made provision for single-digit increases in minimum salaries for specific classes of employees, depending on the location of the salon. That means a senior barber in Port Elizabeth comes at a cost-to-company of at leat R5,392 per month, while a massage therapist in Alberton's total remuneration is set at a minimum of R4,971, and a drybar worker in Wynberg has a R4,048 monthly minimum.

But in order to prevent owners from decreasing existing salaries to match those numbers, the agreement also bans cutting pay – in a fashion that could make life more difficult for salons. If an employee's services are terminated, but that person is re-hired within 12 months, the employee must return at the same salary, the agreement says. 

The deal also demands an "ex gratia" bonus payment, by all employers, of 5.5% of the minimum wages established in the agreement.

For non-parties to the deal, that clause comes into effect on the last day of the month in which the agreement is extended to cover them, which will now be 30 June.

Despite furious lobbying by salons and various representatives, there is still no indication that they will be able to provide any services under Alert Level 3. There is also no formal indication yet of when South Africa can expect to enter Level 2 and beyond, though various industry bodies have adopted the working hypothesis that this will not be before July.

On Thursday Cabinet said it had postponed decisions on further loosening Level 3 restrictions until it had been advised on safety by an advisory committee.

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