CAPE TOWN, The government has put in place measures to ensure that the recently announced National Minimum Wage does not have a negative impact on businesses and jobs in South Africa, says Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Responding to oral questions from Members of Parliament at the National Assembly here Wednesday, he added that businesses which are unable to afford the National Minimum Wage may apply for an exemption of up to 12 months.

“Any fragile sectors that are having difficulty in complying with the national minimum wage will be considered for assistance within the available means, including through incentives,” he said.

The new National Minimum Wage of 20 Rand (about 1,54 US dollar) per hour will be implemented on May 1, 2018, after social partners at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) recently signed agreements following two years of deliberations.

Noting that the amount of 20 Rand an hour translates to a monthly wage of about 3,500 Rand for those working 40 hours a week and about 3,900 Rand for those who work for 45 hour a week, he said a National Minimum Wage Commission would be established to recommend annual adjustments to the level of the national minimum wage.

The wage, the Deputy President said, would also be regularly reviewed by the Commission taking into account the impact of the level of the minimum wage on employment, poverty and inequality.

“In addition, as is the practice in the development of new legislation, the government will conduct a socio-economic impact assessment ahead of the finalisation of a new National Minimum Wage Bill,” he said.

“The introduction of a National Minimum Wage in South Africa is historic. It has been described by some of the community representatives in Nedlac as a revolutionary development, which sets the stage for a far more concerted national effort to defeat poverty.

“Not only will it significantly improve the income of nearly 50% of working South Africans, but it establishes a foundation for progress towards the realisation of a living wage for all.”