These changes are aimed at improving the rights and protection of workers, but they may also bring new challenges for employers.
The Employment Amendment Bill 2022 has recently been passed, bringing significant changes to the way employment is regulated in the country. As an employee or employer, it is important to understand the implications of these changes on your rights and responsibilities in the workplace.
It is essential to stay informed and understand the new laws to ensure compliance and avoid any potential legal issues.
Proposed Labour & Employment amendments:
The amendment seeks to achieve the following;
- Improve the working conditions of domestic workers and casual laborers.
- Compulsory registration and licensing of recruitment agencies for domestic workers and non-manual labourers.
- Provide for an explicit formula for calculation of severance pay and the related conditions
- Recruitment and employment of migrant workers
- Expanding the scope of sexual harassment in employment
- Protection of working breast-feeding mothers
If you are an employer, have signed an employment contract or receive a salary for work done monthly/otherwise, this could be the tool you need to improve work conditions for yourself and others at your workplace in the new year.
An Employer is required to put in place measures to prevent sexual harassment at his or her workplace. Failure to do so is punishable with a fine not exceeding UGX 840,000/=, or imprisonment not exceeding seven years or both.
However, the law is not yet very clear on what should constitute the measures. Under the current law, it is expected that an entity that has at least 25 employees should have a sexual harassment policy.
A casual employee that has been engaged by the same employer continuously for a period of four months is entitled to a written contract and must cease being a casual employee after the expiry of that period.
Such employees would then be entitled to all rights and benefits as may be enjoyed by their employees.
Every Employer would be required to meet the following requirements when employing Migrant Workers;
- Contract of service should meet the requirements of the Employment Act and the respective labour regulations in Uganda.
- Provide effective orientation and ensure that the terms and conditions are fully understood before the engagement.
- Ensure that the migrant worker has a valid work permit;
- Keep a register of all migrant workers employed at the workplace;
- File annual returns with the District labour officer of the area in which the work place is located with details of the migrant worker employed;
- Repatriate a migrant worker or his or her body upon death or on expiry or termination of the contract of service and bear the cost accordingly.
Contravention of the above requirements shall be punishable by a penalty of UGX 4,000,000/= and imprisonment of up to 4 years or both.
These agencies must meet the following legal requirements;
- Ensure that the prospective employer is a suitable person.
- Provide proper orientation on recruitment policies and procedures, terms and conditions of employment.
- Ensure that the migrant worker receives and signs a written contract of service, or a written job offer before departure, that is enforceable in the country in which the work is to be performed.
- Verify that a migrant worker recruited or deployed by the agency is qualified and holds the documents necessary for the job concerned.
- Ensure that the contract of employment is in accordance with the Employment Act and the relevant regulations on labour in Uganda.
A person who contravenes this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred and twenty currency points or imprisonment not exceeding five years or both.
Recruitment Agencies cont’d
- Assume full and complete responsibility for all claims and liabilities which may arise in connection with the use of its licence and provide a list of all itsemployees involved in the recruitment and placement of employees including their contracts of appointment, biodata and two copies of their passport size photographs
The Bill also stops the following people from engaging in the business of recruitment and placement of workers;
- A travel agency or sales agency of an airline company;
- An officer or member of the Board of any company or partner in a partnership engaged in the business of a travel agency;
- A company whose Board members in the business of a travel agency;A Partnership whose partners are engaged in the business of a travel agency; and
- A Political, Religious, or Tribal organisation;
- An entity that is not registered under theCompanies Act, 2012;
- A person who was once a director orpartner in any partnership or company that had previously been issued a recruitment permit under this Act and the recruitment permit was cancelled;A
- person who was once convicted of the crime of Trafficking persons
- Receive and file quarterly updates on the employers and the workers under their responsibility.
An employee recruited for employment at a place which is more than fifty kilometres from his or her home shall have the right to be repatriated back home at the expiry of his or her contract of service.
For an employee to qualify for repatriation, he or she should have worked for at least 5 years. The repatriation shall be calculated at a minimum compensatory rate of 7 km to one litre of fuel (Petrol) from the work town to home town plus a sum of UGX 500,000/= as facilitation from home town to home village.
Breastfeeding mothers would be entitled to a daily thirty-minute breastfeeding break in every two hours of continuous work, upon expiry of their maternity leave, or a reduction in the contractual hours of daily work for an additional sixty working days.
Employers are required to have a reasonable lactation station at the workplace. This development shall not mean that the breast-feeding mother shall be paid less due to the reduced working hours.
Payment of Severance Allowance
Severance allowance payable in all cases shall be a month’s gross salary for each year of completed service.
It should be noted that this severance allowance is in addition to any other entitlements the employee may be entitled to under their contract of employment or any other laws. Employers should also consider the potential impact of this requirement on their budget and financial planning.
It is therefore recommended that Employers take note of the proposed changes, especially those that use casual labourers.
Human Resource Policies that govern the relationship between the employer and employee will be required to be updated to meet these new legal requirements once the Bill is passed into law.
Employers should also consider the potential impact on their workforce and budget, and begin making necessary adjustments to ensure compliance with the new laws.
Additionally, employers should provide training and education to their managers and supervisors to ensure they are aware of the new requirements and can properly implement them.
Failure to comply with the new laws could result in penalties and fines, so it is important for employers to take proactive measures to stay informed and in compliance.