Over 250,000 domestic workers Lose Jobs During Lockdown in South Africa

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The latest data from Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) depicted a decline of 259,000 domestic workers in employment in the second quarter (April to June) compared to the first quarter of this year (January to March).

Domestic workers were required to stay at home and not work unless they lived with their employers under Covid-19 lockdown level 5, which came to be on March 26, 2020.

Some lockdown regulations were eased on May 24, under level 3. Employers were encouraged to pay workers who could not work, but not all employers did so, and many domestic workers lost their jobs during that period.

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, over the year to June, 250,000 domestic worker jobs were lost – a drop of about 25%. It also showed that the total number of people with jobs dropped by 2.2 million to 14.1 million in the second quarter compared to the first.

Assistant General Secretary of the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU), Eunice Dhladhla, disclosed that the number of domestic workers who lost their jobs during the lockdown may even be higher.

“I believe that it’s more than 259,000, because a lot of the domestic workers who lost their jobs were not included in that survey. But it’s still very sad.”

She added that some of the domestic workers were “dismissed over the telephone without any reason”.

“Some of the workers were informed that they were being dismissed because their employers were unable to pay them due to the lockdown, but the majority of them were dismissed without an explanation.”

“Most of the domestic workers are single parents. Their families are dependent on them for food, money, clothes, schooling and everything, only to find out at the end of the month that they have no money or job.”

“This unprecedented change is the largest quarter one to quarter two decline since the survey began in 2008,” StatsSA explained.