The Department of Public Service and Administration is in the process of finalising the ‘Public Service Occupational Dictionary’, which will serve as a definite handbook for government jobs in South Africa.

While South Africa’s public sector jobs are already regulated, the government has grappled with rising wages, issues with verifying qualifications, and questions over whether employees are suitably qualified for certain positions. The dictionary aims to address this by acting as a formal document for government jobs in South Africa.

The dictionary is based on inputs received by various government departments and will provide a detailed breakdown of all occupations and occupational groups within the government.

It will also indicate the minimum qualifications and years of experience generally required for occupying jobs within occupational groups.  This information will be used to inform career paths – including front-facing services such as the South African Police Service.

What government workers earn

South Africa’s government currently employs around 13% of all workers in the country (around 1.2 million people) – yet it pays 33% of all wages.

Responding in a written parliamentary Q&A in October 2021, public service and administration minister Ayanda Dlodlo said that there are currently 16 salary bands across the public service, with employees in band 1 earning an average salary of R103,562. By comparison, public sector workers in band 16 currently earn an average of over R2.1 million.

Dlodlo also provided a breakdown of how many workers are in each salary band, with the largest number of workers falling between salary bands 5 and 9.

Salary band Total number of employees per salary level Current average salary per salary level
1 263 R103 562
2 77 651 R171 278
3 69 003 R206 957
4 38 663 R247 296
5 201 244 R283 227
6 129 361 R332 985
7 306 703 R411 227
8 159 899 R479 868
9 99 927 R567 956
10 54 510 R710 273
11 35 365 R851 022
12 27 399 R1 222 246
13 7 660 R1 147 609
14 2 405 R1 378 620
15 528 R1 661 168
16 712 R2 130 602

29,000 public servants – plus members of the national executive, MPs and members of the provincial executive – earned more than R1 million in 2018.

Data from the 2021 Budget shows that the average government worker remuneration passed R400,000 a year in 2019, with this figure reaching the R450,000 mark in 2021.

Data published at the end of April 2022 shows that South Africa’s real average take-home pay declined to R14,969 in March.

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