Parliament, which had adjourned to 1 September, has been recalled to pass the Labour Amendment Bill which seeks to reverse the unilateral dismissal of employees that has been going on for the past month since the Supreme Court judgment which allowed employers to give workers only three months’ notice without any retrenchment packages.
The House of Assembly will now sit on 18 August and the Senate on 20 August.
“The summoning of the National Assembly and the Senate is meant to enable Parliament to consider the Labour Amendment Bill, HB 7 of 2015 and any related business, which may arise. Thus all Members of the National Assembly must be at Parliament on Tuesday, 18 August, 2015. All Senators must be at Parliament on the 20th of August, 2015,” the clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda said yesterday.
It is estimated that some 20 000 workers have lost their jobs since the Supreme Court judgment on 17 July.
According to The Herald, under the proposed amendments to the Labour Act, employers will only be able to terminate a contract of employment on three grounds, namely: disciplinary reasons in terms of the code of conduct; if the employer and the employee agree; and/or if the employee have been engaged on a fixed-term of contract for a specified task.
Employers will, however, have to go through the normal retrenchment exercise if none of the above three scenarios apply.
The Bill will streamline the current process of retrenchment, with works councils and employment councils having to negotiate compensation packages that will apply to all future retrenchments in the enterprise or the industry concerned.
The Bill also gives a default of at least one month’s pay for each year of service although the Labour Minister must consult the Retrenchment Board before registering an agreement that contains only this default.
The Retrenchment Board will fix the minimum package in cases where there are no works or employment councils.
Employers who cite inability to pay under these laid down procedures, in the event of retrenchment, can apply for exemption to the relevant employment council, which will have 14 days to decide the matter taking into account ability to pay, relocation and the security of the remaining staff.