The availability and affordable nature of domestic help in Cape Town is one small luxury that most expats may wish to take advantage of if they move to the city.

Employing domestic helpers, nannies and gardeners is common for middle- and upper-class South Africans and provides much-needed employment in the country's highly unequal society.

While expats are likely to have somebody knocking on their door looking for work at some point, it's important to employ people based on references. There are also several recruitment companies that specialise in domestic staff.

Employing domestic workers in Cape Town

There are specific rules concerning work hours, overtime, annual leave, unemployment insurance and termination.

Live-in staff will expect food and accommodation as part of the package. Live-out staff may expect additional pay to compensate them for travel costs and, if working a full day, at least one meal should be provided to them at lunchtime.

Although not an obligation, it is normal for domestic staff to receive a thirteenth check in December as an additional bonus to their regular pay.

Annual leave for domestic workers in Cape Town

Domestic workers in Cape Town employed on a full-time basis are entitled to 15 working days of leave per year. This is often taken over Christmas, when many South Africans head to other areas of the country to spend time with extended family. Expats should try to agree on dates well in advance. Domestic workers may not be forced to work on any of South Africa's 12 official public holidays.

If ill or injured, domestic workers are entitled to the equivalent of up to six weeks of sick leave for every 36 months (three years) of work. This usually amounts to around 10 days of sick leave per year of work if split equally over the three years. Generally, sick leave is paid, unless certain conditions aren't met (such as if the domestic worker can't produce a medical certificate on request after two or more days of being off sick).

New mothers are entitled to four months of maternity leave, which may be paid or unpaid at the discretion of the employer. The job must be reserved for them should they choose to return.

Staff can also request to take family responsibility leave to look after a sick child or to attend a funeral of one of their extended family. Employees are entitled to three days of family responsibility a year, but domestic employers are usually flexible about this.