Learnership stipend rules and regulations are contained in Sectoral Determination 5: Learnerships. A stipend is an income issued to unemployed candidates placed on internships, learnerships and apprenticeships. Keeping stipends low increases the opportunity for low wages once qualified.
Learnership Stipend Rules and Minimum Pay
Learnership stipends are paid to those who were unemployed when placed on a learnership or apprenticeship. If you were already employed and then placed on a learnership you are not entitled to a stipend in addition to your salary.
Learnerships have become an easy way to employ youth and pay them low. Learnership candidates aren’t paid market-related pay but minimum rates.
What to do about a low stipend
If you apply for a learnership, try to negotiate the best possible amount but don’t expect this as a right. Most organisations aren’t looking for youth who believe in their rights, they are looking for youth who can survive on very little for one year. Hopefully, you can afford to accept an opportunity to qualify even if you are poor and have no family support.
Decide on the minimum you’re willing to sign up for and then honour it – i.e. be the best you can be or don’t accept the position.
Read what learners have to say about stipends.
LEARNERSHIPS RESULT IN EMPLOYER TAX BENEFITS
Organisations gain lucrative (big ass) incentives for providing opportunities to the youth, no matter how badly they treat them. BEE points, rebates and other perks have become a convenient revenue stream for companies. Employers who pay learners a stipend can claim back each cent paid, yet stipends are reported as low as R1 500 p/mth or R30 per day.
The Department of Labour published Sectoral Determination 5: Learnerships.
Learners have a right to challenge the regulations or complain about the conditions in which they find themselves. The fact that youth are largely grateful for even the worst possible opportunity shouldn’t be taken advantage of, but it is. Youth must elect representatives and empower themselves as a group at their places of employment. They should do this secretly if they believe the employer won’t support them. They should also seek out union membership as the system is bigger than an individual. Individual rights are limited and squeezed in the South African labour market.
The sectoral determination sets Learnership regulations for:
Rules and Regulations for Learnerships
The following is extracted from the determination, the points listed below are numbered the same as in the Determination:
- 1. (a) This determination applies to –
- the employment of a learner –
- who has concluded a learnership agreement in terms of section 17 of the Act; and
- who was not in the employment of the employer party to the learnership agreement when the agreement was concluded.
- the employment of a learner –
(b) to every employer who employs a learner contemplated in sub-paragraph (a). (edited)
2.2 (a) This determination forms part of the contract of employment of any learner employed in terms of section 18(2) of the Act.
(b) Sub-paragraph (a) does not stop an employer and a learner from agreeing to a contract of employment in terms of section 18(2) of the Act, which has terms, and conditions that are more favourable to the learner. (edited)
3. This determination comes before any collective agreement, except where learners receive an allowance or conditions of employment that are more favourable to the employee than provided for in this determination. (edited)
- (1) An employer must pay a learner an allowance calculated in terms of this clause.
- Subject to subclause 3, a learner’s allowance must be calculated as a percentage of the qualified wage in accordance with column 3 of Table A.
- No learner may be paid less than the applicable allowance specified
- For the purposes of this clause –
- the “qualified wage” is the wage that the employer would pay the learner on obtaining the qualification for which the learnership is registered;
- “wage” means the amount of money payable to an employee in respect of the hours of work an employee normally works, excluding any overtime.
- Valid February 2023
- Minimum wage with effect from March 1, 2022
- Minimum wage with effect till February 28, 2023
- The amounts are in South African Rand.
Employers must not pay learners less than shown in the following table:
|NQF Level and Credits completed||Per week|
|NQF Level 1 to 2 – Credits earned 1-120 per month, as calculated by Mywage.co.za ZAR1,511.34||ZAR349.04|
|NQF Level 1 to 2 – Credits earned 121-240 per month, as calculated by Mywage.co.za ZAR3,022.56||ZAR698.05|
|NQF Level 3 – Credits earned 1-120 per month, as calculated by Mywage.co.za ZAR1,511.34||ZAR349.04|
|NQF Level 3 – Credits earned 121-240 per month, as calculated by Mywage.co.za ZAR2,846.46||ZAR657.38|
|NQF Level 3 – Credits earned 241-360 per month, as calculated by Mywage.co.za ZAR4,659.90||ZAR1,076.19|
|NQF Level 4 – Credits earned 1-120 per month, as calculated by Mywage.co.za ZAR1,511.34||ZAR349.04|
|NQF Level 4 – Credits earned 121-240 per month, as calculated by Mywage.co.za ZAR3,022.82||ZAR698.11|
|NQF Level 4 – Credits earned 241-360 per month, as calculated by Mywage.co.za ZAR4,659.90||ZAR1,076.19|
|NQF Level 4 – Credits earned 361-480 per month, as calculated by Mywage.co.za ZAR6,800.83||ZAR1,570.63|
|NQF Level 5 to 8 – Credits earned 1-120 Per month, as calculated by Mywage.co.za ZAR1,511.34||ZAR349.04|
|NQF Level 5 to 8 – Credits earned 121-240 per month, as calculated by Mywage.co.za ZAR3,063.00||ZAR707.39|
|NQF Level 5 to 8 – Credits earned 241-360 per month, as calculated by Mywage.co.za ZAR4,899.14||ZAR1,131.44|
|NQF Level 5 to 8 – Credits earned 361-480 per month, as calculated by Mywage.co.za ZAR6,901.76||ZAR1,593.94|
|NQF Level 5 to 8 – Credits earned 481-600 per month, as calculated by Mywage.co.za ZAR8,815.88||ZAR2,036.00|
South Africa has a government-mandated minimum wage. No worker in South Africa can be paid less than this mandatory minimum rate of pay. The national minimum wage only exempts three categories, namely domestic workers, farm workers and expanded public works.
Employers in South Africa who fail to pay the Minimum Wage may be subject to punishment by the government of South Africa.
Wages per month are calculated as 4.33 times if a weekly wage is defined. It is calculated as 4.33 times the standard hours per week if an hourly wage is given.
- A learner’s allowance is calculated by reference to the number of hours the learner normally works.
- For the purposes of calculating the allowance of a learner, a learner is deemed normally to work-
- 45 hours in a week, unless the learner ordinarily works a lesser number of hours in a week;
- nine hours in a day, or seven and a half hours in the case of a learner who works for more than five days a week, or the number of hours that a learner works in a day in terms of an agreement concluded in accordance with clause 11 unless the learner normally works a lesser number of hours in a day.
- A learner’s monthly remuneration or allowance is four and one-third times the learner’s weekly remuneration or allowance, respectively.
- If a learner’s remuneration or allowance fluctuates significantly from period to period, any payment to that learner in terms of this Act must be calculated by reference to the learner’s remuneration or allowance during-
- the preceding 13 weeks; or
- if the learner has been in employment for a shorter period, that period.
- An employer must pay a learner any remuneration that is paid in money-
- in South African currency;
- daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly; and
- in cash, by cheque or by direct deposit into an account designated by the learner.
- Any remuneration paid in cash or by cheque must be given to each learner-
- at the workplace or at a place agreed to by the learner;
- during the learner’s working hours or within 15 minutes of the commencement or conclusion of those hours; and
- in a sealed envelope which becomes the property of the learner.
- An employer must pay remuneration not later than seven days after-
- the completion of the period for which the remuneration is payable; or
- the termination of the learnership.
- Subclause (3)(b) does not apply to any pension or provident fund payment to a learner that is made in terms of the rules of the fund.
Pay and Record-Keeping
- The written information required in terms of subclause (1) must be given to each learner-
- at the workplace or at a place agreed to by the learner; and
- during the learner’s ordinary working hours or within 15 minutes of the commencement or conclusion of those hours.
DEDUCTIONS AND OTHER ACTS CONCERNING REMUNERATION
This section as it’s so important it needs to stand alone. Please read why deductions are illegal unless permission was granted.
Clauses 14 – 16 Read what the legislation says about rest, Sunday work and night shifts
Clause 24: Read about MATERNITY LEAVE
Tips about learnerships and stipends
- Keep Climbing receives requests for advice from people on learnerships concerned about their experience and stipends. A funded learnership is one that is implemented specifically for the unemployed, also known as the 18.2 category at the SETAs.
- Stipends should be paid on time every month or week, and the amount agreed upon during the interview should be honoured.
- If you ‘feel’ or ‘believe’ that you are being paid too little – ask yourself ‘How much is this training worth? and ‘Could I pay for the training on my own?’
- Learnerships provide access to professionals who can coach you through your development phase and connect you with future career opportunities. This in itself is worth a lot of money. Use a learnership, apprenticeship or internship as a networking opportunity to set yourself up.
- Create your choices for yourself and make the most of every opportunity – no matter how big or small.
If you’re on a learnership and have started to question the stipend, please consider the following:
- If you agreed to an amount at the beginning of the contract and have become unhappy – you can speak to HR, the union, the CCMA etc. but given that you agreed to the contract, there’s little that can be done. Resign in a responsible manner, and clearly state why you have to leave and why the stipend amount is a disadvantage to you.
- If you feel you are being treated unfairly by the employer, lodge a dispute at the Department of Labour or the CCMA. You are considered to be an employee, protected by our labour legislation.
- Remember that learnerships are hard work and that anyone studying has to make sacrifices in order to achieve their goals of success.
- Learnerships were established for positive economic and social goals, and to benefit people who had limited access to education and employment. It’s an opportunity for companies to do good, get tax benefits and grow their organisations so that they can employ some of the learners they recruited for a learnership.
- If a company does not intend to hire learners at the end of the learnership, they must provide vocational guidance and prepare you to be a job seeker or entrepreneur.
Ultimately, you are responsible for making your life a success. Go for it!!!
Read more on the Department of Labour Website here
Report stipend and contract issues.