• Derick Blaauw Department of Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Anmar Pretorius Department of Economics, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
  • Huma Louw Department of Social Work, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
  • Rinie Schenck Department of Social Work, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Day labourers are workers who wait on street corners or in other public places for opportunities to work. They are individuals who work for different employers and get paid on a daily basis. Because they are excluded from the formal labour market, these workers often work for different employers each day, are paid in cash, and do not enjoy benefits such as health insurance and unemployment benefits. It is mainly the employers who benefit from this relationship. They do not have many commitments towards these workers and use them only when work is available


BLAAUW, P.F., LOUW, H. & SCHENCK, C.J. 2005. The dynamics of informal labour markets in South Africa – a case study of day labourers in Pretoria. Department of Economics Research Paper No. 0501, University of Johannesburg.

BLESS, C. & HIGSON-SMITH, C. 1995. Fundamentals of social research methods – an African perspective (2nd ed). Cape Town: Juta.

GONZO, W. & PLATTNER, I.E. 2003. Unemployment in an African country: A psychological perspective. Windhoek: University of Namibia Press.

KERR, D. & DOLE, C. 2001. Challenging exploitation and abuse: A study of the day labor industry in Cleveland. Cleveland: City Council.

NATIONAL DAY LABORERS’ ORGANIZING NETWORK (NDLON). n.d. Common ground. A study conducted by the National Day Laborers’ Organizing Network, written in conjunction with Sue McCarty and George Faraday, University of Maryland School of Law Labor Law Clinic.

RUBIN, A. & BABBIE, E. 1997. Research methods for social work. Pacific Grove: Brooks Cole.

SCHENCK, R. & LOUW, H. 2005. An exploratory study on day labourers in Elardus Park Pretoria. Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk, 41(1):84-95.

UNITED STATES GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE (GAO). 2002. Worker protection. Labor’s efforts to enforce protections for day laborers could benefit from better data and guidance. GAO-02-925, September.

VALENZUELA JR., A., THEODORE, N., MELÉNDEZ, E. & GONZALEZ, A.L. 2006. On the corner: Day labour in the United States. Los Angeles: UCLA.

WHITEFORD, A. & VAN SEVENTER, D.E. 1999. Winners and losers: South Africa’s changing income distribution in the 1990s. Menlo Park: WEFA Southern Africa.