Learnership Stipend Rules

Stipend regulations are based on Sectoral Determination 5: Learnerships. A stipend is income issued to unemployed candidates placed on internships, learnerships and apprenticeships. Keeping stipends low increases the opportunity for low wages once qualified.

Unemployed black youth, regardless of education achievement, are fundamentally reduced to NQF levels and tax rebates. Stipends have become anti poor, not based on the realistic living conditions of disadvantaged youth, supposedly the ‘beneficiaries.’

Organisations gain lucrative 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 often as low as R1 500 p/mth or R30 per day.

Learnership Stipends for trust fund kids now?

Stipends are going so low, you need to be wealthy to be on one!

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 and pay low, Learnership candidates aren’t paid market related wages.

If you apply for a learnership, try negotiate the best possible amount but don’t expect this as a right. Most organisations aren’t looking for youth who believe they have 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.

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 regulations for:

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

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)

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.

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

UPDATE: Here is the 2019 table

Report stipend and contract issues

Calculating Pay

  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.

Pay and Record Keeping

  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

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Comments (75)

  1. Johanna Masuku

    Hi My name is Johanna … I am on a learnership program at Maccauvlei Learning Academy…
    I think we have been treated unfairly becaus we were supposed to get paid our R3500 as we agreed on the contract but we instead got R875 for the whole month of July while other Learners are being paid full stipend.
    When we ask they tell us we’ve been punished for the absenteeism of other learners.
    Where can one report the matter because this is an unfair labour practice. Hence we did get informed that we should not expect the full stipends.

  2. Hi my name its caroline Sekhele ,Im am intern at City power under agent, I started working here as an main reception since 18 july even now I haven’t got payed our agent told us the company that supposed to pay us its graysonreed, we tried several times to get hold of them but different stories others learners don’t even have FNB card to get paid, so we scared to stay at home because they will replace us.

  3. hi I am patricia , I think we have been treated unfairly we did not get our December stippend and they are expecting us to come to work on January where are we going to get money for transport.

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