NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 8 – Domestic workers are among the lowest earners in most nations and often get minimal protection from legislation related to other workers, according to a new survey conducted in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
The survey produced by South African on-demand home services provider Sweepsouth which indicates that domestic workers in Kenya earn an average of Sh8, 522 per month.
This is despite the country’s enforcement of a minimum wage for domestic workers, which respondents of the survey say they have not met and are still below the threshold, suggesting that better enforcement is needed.
In Nigeria, domestic worker wages are unregulated. In 2019, the national minimum wage in Nigeria was raised from NGN 18 000 to NGN 30 000.
“Based on the respondents to our survey, domestic workers in Nigeria also fall significantly below the latest legislated minimum wage for other workers,” the report states.
The report also reveals that the impact of COVID-19 on the livelihoods of domestic workers has been significant, with Kenya and Nigeria showing that about 2 in 5 domestic workers lost their job due to the pandemic vs 1 in 5 in South Africa.
It also show that almost half of the households in South Africa and Nigeria have additional sources of income.
While almost all Kenyan and the vast majority of South African domestic workers reported that cleaning is their primary role, Nigerian domestic workers showed an even split between cleaning, cooking, and child-care with 1 in 2 reporting one of these additional responsibilities as part of their primary role.
While South Africa and Kenya have minimum wage legislation protecting domestic workers, the report indicates that this is often not adhered to.
The report says that without better implementation and enforcement, domestic workers will not see much benefit.
“Governments should work with tech partners to make registration quick and easy for employers and employees. Once that is complete, governments should look at a set of incentives for compliance, such as tax incentives and easy sign-up stations at locations easily accessible to domestic workers and their employers,” the report recommends.
Savings vs Debt
In Kenya and Nigeria, 1 in 4 domestic workers reported having savings or a pension. Kenyan respondents participated in a SACCO at roughly the same rate (15 percent) as South Africans (17 percent).
In all countries surveyed, debt levels were concerning.
South African nationals showed similar levels of indebtedness to Kenyan and Nigerian respondents.
This is likely due to a reduced ability for foreigners to access credit in South Africa.
Despite their high level of indebtedness, about 1 in 4 Nigerians felt that their repayment situation was ‘hopeless’, compared to almost 1 in 2 in South Africa and Kenya.
The Sweepsouth Report on Pay and Working Conditions for Domestic Workers across Africa was drawn from responses of 7,000 people from the 3 countries.