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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.
COLUMN 1 COLUMN 2 COLUMN 3 COLUMN 4
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


CALCULATION OF REMUNERATION AND ALLOWANCES

  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.

PAYMENT OF REMUNERATION

  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.

INFORMATION ABOUT REMUNERATION

  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.

DEDUCTIONS AND OTHER ACTS CONCERNING REMUNERATION

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 (74)

  1. 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.

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