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Zambia Introduces New Act To Regulate Employment

Joyce Simukoko, Labour Minister, photo Credit. ZNBC

The Government of Zambia has introduced a new employment regulation Act.

According to local media reports in Zambia, the Act is to regulate the employment of persons, prohibit discrimination at an undertaking.

Local media outlet, Lusaka Times reports that the Act constitute the Skills and Labour Advisory Committees, and provide for their functions has come into force in Zambia.

Full report from Lusaka Times below

The controversial Employment Code Act number 3 of 2019 which stakeholders want suspended provide for the engagement of persons on contracts of employment, the form and enforcement of the contracts of employment, employment entitlements, and other benefits, protection of wages of employees, and the registration of employment agencies.

The Act further regulates the employment of children and young persons, provide for the welfare of employees at an undertaking, employment policies, procedures, and codes in an undertaking, repeal and replace the Employment Act, 1965, the Employment Act 1966, the Employment of Young Persons and Children Act 1933 and the Minimum Wages and Conditions of Employment Act, 1982 among others.

Signing the Act into law today, Labour Minister Joyce Simukoko has warned employers against abrogating the new law saying the government will ensure that provisions of the new employment Act are observed.

Mrs. Simukoko said in accordance with the new Act, employers will only be exempted from paying an employee on forced but paid annual leave the basic pay after applying to the Office of the Labour Commissioner.

She also said the government is still monitoring the situation in terms of job losses during this period of the COVID-19 and so far there are no official records of loss of employment.

The Employment Code Act takes effect at a time various stakeholders are calling for it to be withdrawn or suspended saying it is chocking employers.

The Zambian government should repeal or at least suspend the Employment Code Act, according to a report by one of the country’s leading economists and a human resource expert.

The report further recommends the establishment of a multi-sector Employment and Labour Legislation Taskforce, which should undertake a comprehensive review of the Employment Code Act. This action should be taken immediately, with a reversion back to the previous legislation pending further review.

“It is strongly recommended that the Employment and Labour Legislation Taskforce undertake extensive consultations with all the relevant stakeholders to ensure that all the submissions are seriously considered bearing, in mind that what may appear to be in the best interest of employees in the short-term could result in serious repercussions in the medium- to long-term in term in forgone opportunity to enable employers to remain viable and profitable, which is essential for securing jobs and employment expansion,” they continued.

The report, Critical Assessment of the Employment Code Act by Professor Oliver Saasa of Premier Consult and Felix Mwenge, a research fellow in the Human Development Unit of the Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (ZIPAR), says the Employment Code Act (ECA) has introduced significant complications to labour and employment legislation in Zambia, which calls for urgent introspection before it begins to seriously affect growth prospects.

The mining sector has been particularly hard hit by the new legislation because of the large numbers of people it employs, they noted.

The mining industry is a significant employer: 85,111 people were employed in the sector in 2018. In that year, the mining sector accounted for 7 percent of wage employment and 3 percent of total employment in Zambia, according to the report.

The number of women employed in the mining and quarrying sector was 9,713 in 2018, which represents 11 percent of the total employed in the sector.

Multiplier effects in companies directly or indirectly supplying the mines adds to this impact, they continued. However, the researchers note that the ECA will negatively impact on the employment of women.

Jobs in contractors’ firms, for example, are intimately linked to the buoyancy of the mining sector, and any changes to labour and employment laws that result in disruptions in the sector would threaten growth among contractors.

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