Extension of Hairdressing and Cosmetology Main Agreement – Ex Gracia payments and Wage increases

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On 2 June 2020, Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi signed the extension to non-parties of the Consolidated Collective Agreement for the National Bargaining Council for the Hairdressing, Cosmetology, Beauty, and Skincare Industry. This agreement is now binding on all employers in the hairdressing, cosmetology, beauty, and skincare industry within South Africa, irrespective of whether they belong to the Bargaining Council.

The agreement which takes effect on 22 June 2020 and remains in force until 31 December 2020, covers a wide range of terms and conditions of employment that employers must adhere to, including minimum wages for its employees, maximum working hours, and how the establishment must be run.

Most notable, the agreement places an obligation on employers who have not been party to the Council to date to pay an ‘ex gratia’ bonus payment to their employees of 5.5% of the minimum wages set out in the agreement by 30 June 2020. This ex-gratia payment should have been paid by existing members to the Council on the last day of November 2019 and does not need to be paid again if this obligation had been complied with.

The agreement further prevents employers from reducing existing salaries to the minimum wage by proving that if an employee’s services has been terminated and that person is re-employed within 12 months, the employee must be taken back at the same salary they earned before termination.

These wage increases and bonus payments are compulsory for all employers in spite of the fact that the hairdressing and beauty industry has been unable to operate since the lockdown commenced on 26 March, and there is to date no indication of when they will be able to resume.

Employers who are unable to comply with the provisions of the collective agreement must apply for exemption in terms of section 18 of the agreement and should receive feedback on whether or not exemption is granted within 30 days of the application being submitted.

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