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Learnership Regulations and Stipends – A barrier to the poor?

Here are current learnership stipend regulations. A stipend is income issued to unemployed candidates placed on internships, learnerships and apprenticeships.

Candidates are typically not viewed as equal citizens but as NQF levels. These anti poor wages are not based on the realistic living conditions of the disadvantaged youth, usually referred to as ‘beneficiaries.’

Companies gain lucrative incentives for providing opportunities to the youth, no matter how badly they teat them. BEE points, rebates and other perks are becoming primary incentives that foster an additional revenue stream for companies.

Employers who pay learners a stipend can claim back each cent paid, yet stipends are often as low as R1 500 p/mth or R30 per day.

By keeping stipends low – it increases the opportunity for low wages once qualified.

Are Learnership Stipends for trust fund kids now?

Learnership stipends are paid to those who were unemployed when placed on a learnership. 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 and pay below minimum wages as Learnership candidates are rarely paid a market related wage.

If you apply for a learnership, negotiate the best possible amount. 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.

The Department of Labour has published rules for Learnerships called Sectoral Determination 5: Learnerships.

Learners have a right to challenge the regulations, I’m surprised they don’t.

This determination sets Learnership:

  • minimum wages
  • working hours
  • number of leave days
  • termination rules

APPLICATION OF THIS DETERMINATION: who does this regulation apply to?

  1. 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.

(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)

LEARNER’S ALLOWANCES: minimum payments

  1. (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.

Table Listing Stipend Amounts

  • Depicts the increases across years , note that increases are not required if the stipend paid by the employer already satisfies all minimum requirements.
  • This table reveals how stipends are used to reduce young disadvantaged adults to nothing more than a number on the NQF.
Exit level of learnership Credits already earned by learner Percentage of qualified wage to be paid as allowance Minimum  allowance per week
NQF 1 or 2 0 – 120 35% R204.47
121 – 240 69% R408.92
NQF 3 0 – 120 17% R204.47
121 – 240 40% R385.10
241 – 360 53% R630.45
NQF 4 0 – 120 13% R204.47
121 – 240 25% R408.96
241 – 360 53% R630.45
361 – 480 56% R920.09
NQF 5 to 8 0 – 120 8% R204.45
120 – 240 18% R442.99
240 – 360 27% R662.81
361 – 480 38% R933.74
481 – 600 49% R1192.70

Report stipend and contract issues


  1.  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.


  1.  An employer must pay to 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.


  1. An employer must give a learner the following information in writing on each day the learner is paid: <subclause (1)>
    • the employer’s name and address;
    • the learner’s name and learnership;
    • the period for which the payment is made;
    • the learner’s remuneration in money;
    • the amount and purpose of any deduction made from the remuneration;
    • the actual amount paid to the learner; and
    • if relevant to the calculation of that learner’s remuneration-
      • the learner’s rate of remuneration and overtime rate;
      • the number of ordinary and overtime hours worked by the learner during the period for which the payment is made;
      • the number of hours worked by the learner on a Sunday or public holiday during that period; and
      • if an agreement to average working time has been concluded in terms of clause 12, the total number of ordinary and overtime hours worked by the learner in the period of averaging.
  • 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.


We removed this section as it’s so important and needs to stand alone.  Please read why deductions are illegal unless you gave permission for them.

Click here to read what is allowed.

  Working hours, mealtimes and overtime

Do you know that the legislation says learners must be issued with a Contract of Employment and Certificate of Service?

Rules for the termination of learnership agreements

South African salaries and Learnership stipends

 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, 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 opportunity. 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:

  1. 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, clearly state why you have to leave and why the stipend amount is a disadvantage to you.
  2. 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!!!

More from Sectoral Determination 5: Learnerships



Comments (71)

  1. Good day please help I’m on a learnership with rand water and department of water and sanitation so every month now we have to fight to get our stipend sorted out. Please help

  2. Greetings Leonie

    After reading the comments above I am starting to get really nervous because their situation is similiar to mine! I am also in a learnership doing a NQF level 4 certificate in SCM. The qualification is really important to me because it is in line with the career direction Im taking.Late last year around October we wrote our final assessment and then November we were called in to do all the out standing paper work so to close for December holidays.we were told that we re-open on the 8 of January 2018 to start with our practicals.We haven’t received our stipends from November until now.In January we were informed that there were problems and instructed to remain at home until further.Its end of February now and we still not clear about whats going on and the contract we have with our employer is ending in June. There are many explanation we are given and don,t know which is true.I have a good relationship with the employer and I fear that going to the CCMA or DOL may seem aggressive.I wish to solve this in an amicable manner if possible.Please guide me and my fellow learners

    Hope to hear from you soon
    most kind regards

  3. Nomfundo Baloyi

    Good Day

    My name is Nomfundo Baloyi, I entered an internship with a company from 01.11.2016 – 31.2017 as per contract, Before the internship contract could end in 01.10.2017 i was promoted to a sales and marketing assistant position with a probation of 3 months still earning the same stipend, 3 months has passed and am still earning the same stipend. On the 25.01.2017 they gave us a raise like any company normally does each year which is 12.7% increase.
    Please kindly advise as what i have to do professionally, regarding this promotion issue and the increase, isn’t that when one finishes the internship and the company still keep me am suppose to move from stipend to a salary.

    1. Hi Nomfundo
      We are busy compiling information about this issue so that we can ensure youth are treated fairly and properly protected. Please check your emails. I’ll be mailing you!

  4. Hi…when you’re in a learnership aren’t you supposed to be registered with labour and SARS? I’d like to know because I’m on a learnership and I don’t have a payslip to show what money they are deducting from my stipend. we are being told that they are paying for our insurance.

    1. You are entitled to a payslip ok!!! Please approach the union, DHET, DoL and the relevant SETA if they persist in this behaviour.

  5. hellow my name is lindiwe early this year(2017) i signed a contract with SETA @kuyasa development organisation in ladysmith we signed register every month but we never get paid they keep on promising us empty promises what worries me a most is that 25% of other intern got their monies except us when we call a guy from finance he keep on telling us that we will receive payment after 24hours but it been months now the is nothing in our bank

    pLease help us we are struggling

    1. Hi Lindiwe
      It’s not clear if you were attending classes or if all you did was go in and sign a register. You can’t be paid a stipend to sit at home but if you’ve been training or doing work place experience then you’re entitled to it. If so, go to the CCMA, SETA and DHET. Please read our other articles on this matter for more information about what to do and if you’re still not clear let us know.
      All the best, Leo

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