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State relaxes ‘stiff’ labour laws

By FLAVIOR KANUNGO
GOVERNMENT has listened to the plight of employers and relaxed draconian separation and leave conditions in the new Employment Act.
This follows complaints from the Zambia Federation of Employers and other stakeholders that the proposed labour laws would have crippled companies in trying to fulfill payment of gratuity, leave days and overtime when most firms were struggling because of reduced business induced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Minister of Labour and Social Security Joyce Nonde-Simukoko said yesterday Government has therefore exempted employers from complying with the redundancy notice period set out in section 55(2) of the Employment Code Act of 2019.
She said the employer may be granted a waiver in relation to the notice period provided that the employees are paid in lieu of notice.
Section 55 of the Employment Code Act of 2019 stipulates that where an employer intends to terminate a contract of employment by reason of redundancy, the employer shall – (a) give notice of not less than 30 days to the employee or a representative of the employee of the impending redundancy and inform the representative on the number of employees if more than one to be affected and the period within which the termination is intended to be carried out.
Ms Simukoko also announced that gratuity payments to all employees in the domestic and agriculture sector whose employment contracts do not provide for gratuity have been exempted.
She said this during a media briefing held in Lusaka yesterday.
And Government has exempted employers from the provision of section 48 where an employer is financially incapacitated.
Section 48 stipulates that an employer shall, where the employer sends an employee on forced leave, pay the employee basic pay during the period of the forced leave.
The additional measure are in pursuant to section 2 of the Employment Code Act of 2019 which allows the minister to invoke her power by statutory instrument to exempt any person, or class of persons or any trade, industry or undertaking from any of the provision of the Act.
Ms Simukoko said the government has also exempted employers and employees from the provisions of section 36 which deals with annual leave, stating that section 36 of the Employment Code Act of 2019 does not take into account the alternative of carrying forward days.
The minister’s action comes after a second special Tripartite Consultative Labour Council meeting on May 7, 2020 following complaints from some employers about some clauses in the 2019 Employment Code.
And Ms Simukoko said Government has exempted expatriates and management employees covered by a workplace employment policy providing for overtime from the provisions of section 75 which deals with overtime.
Ms Simukoko said Government will continue to monitor developments on the labour market during the period of Covid-19 and after to ensure harmony and productivity on labour.

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