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WHAT IS LEGAL ABOUT LEARNERSHIP STIPEND DEDUCTIONS?

Complaints about some employers making stipend deductions and others requiring learners to repay stipends have surfaced more prominently this year than previously.

Claims of Deductions and Repayment Threats

The following are comments posted on Keep Climbing by learners questioning stipend deductions.

Businesses named are welcome to send their statements and I will publish them. Learner names are removed as some are still in the situation they have written about and should be protected.

Hi!

Sometimes we don’t get a full stipend and if ever you are absent they deduct the stipend. Does it happen that a stipend is being deducted as it is not a salary?

My academy is Artisan Development Academy in Berea Road Durban. And if you need PPE”S they give us cheap Chinese material. I am very worried about this academy because they make our lives miserable. Please help!

31 January 2015

I was part of an 18 month learner financial advisor program at PSG wealth. This was a sales driven learnership and our monthly stipend was as follows:

R10 000 from Jan-April (plus commision)
R8000 from May – Aug (plus commision)
R6000 from September – December (plus commission)
R3500 from January – March (plus Commision)
R1500 from April 2017 – July 2017 (plus commission)

I had just graduated.
I was not meeting my sales targets and I was coming under pressure financially.
So I resigned recently and they sent me an acknowledgement of debt for the allowance I have been receiving since the beginning of the learnership. The debt I will owe if I sign is R10 5000. How should I go about this because I’m unemployed and I don’t know how I am going to repay this money.

We recently got a learnership in Robertville, a gumboot making company.
Our issue here is that our stipend is being deducted for: provident fund, uif, agency fee(which we don’t know about) council levy and NBC sick fund.
We were not told of the deductions before we commenced,
The deductions amounted to 33% of the gross wage since they paid us for one day, and on our payslips for job title instead of it stating learner it stated general worker. When we asked, they said it’s the 1st time the company ran a learnership and they have to update the system.So what must we do mam please help.

Hi Leonie Hall
For a full week we worked. We are promised R600 weekly stipend.
And for that week we worked only one day which supposed to have amounted to R120 but after deductions it was R70.

We have problem at Royal Bafokeng institute with our stipend.
It was supposed to be R1000.00 but they give us R655.00. We need to know what is the exact amount we supposed to get?
We did not sign any contract. We get paid late.
Our problem is that we don’t know whether the stipend we get is R1000.00 or R1500.00

The Departments of Higher Education and Labour, the QCTO and the SETAs have a duty to monitor these trends but are largely dependent on members of the public to report irregularities.

However, from bitter experience, when the public attempts this, there’s a lack of an effective, transparent channel that fails to allow for learner / apprentice representation. In addition, all these agencies lack an efficient collaborative mechanism in addressing and disclosing issues. A major concern is that they don’t address issues  jointly thereby allowing irregularities to perpetuate and thrive.

All this means that the public must take responsibility for ensuring they are properly informed. If you’re on a learnership or apprenticeship, please take responsibility and read the legislation.


It may be possible that not ALL companies are aware that they are breaking the law. This does not mean that they are not responsible for wrong doing,  they have access to resources and hire professionals who are supposed to be informed. When a company says, “we didn’t know” it indicates negligence and a lack of corporate responsibility and morality.

The Legislation, Sectoral Determination 5: Learnerships Says NO DEDUCTIONS or REPAYMENT

The following is extracted directly from Sectoral Determination 5: Learnerships

DEDUCTIONS AND OTHER ACTS CONCERNING REMUNERATION

  1. An employer may not make any deduction from a learner’s remuneration unless-

    subject to subclause (2), the learner in writing agrees to the deduction in respect of a debt specified in the agreement; or

    the deduction is required or permitted in terms of a law, collective agreement, court order or arbitration award.

  • A deduction may be made to reimburse an employer for loss or damage only if-
    • the loss or damage occurred in the course of employment and was due to the fault of the learner;
    • the employer has followed a fair procedure and has given the learner a reasonable opportunity to show why the deductions should not be made;
    • the total amount of the debt does not exceed the actual amount of the loss or damage; and
    • the total deductions from the learner’s remuneration in terms of this subclause do not exceed one-quarter of the learner’s remuneration in money.
  • A deduction in respect of any goods purchased by the learner must specify the nature and quantity of the goods.
    • An employer who deducts an amount from a learner’s remuneration for payment to another person must pay the amount to the person in accordance with the time period and other requirements specified in the agreement, law, court order or arbitration award.
  • An employer may not require or permit a learner to-
    • repay any remuneration except for overpayments previously made by the employer resulting from an error in calculating the learner’s remuneration; or
    • acknowledge receipt of an amount greater than the remuneration actually received.

An employer may not make any deduction from a learner’s remuneration, or require a learner to repay any amount, in respect of any tools, materials, equipment, protective clothing, uniforms or training material required for the purposes of the learnership.

Conclusion

Nothing is legal about deductions unless a learner agreed to it in writing.


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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 also apply.

South African pay and Learnership stipend expectations.

Are Learnership Stipends Fair? Trapped Between Business and Black Tax

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