CASUALIZATION of labour and unjustified termination of contracts of employment are now illegal following President Edgar Lungu’s assenting the amended Employment Act Cap 268 of the laws of Zambia.
The Head of State assented to the amendment Bill on November 26, 2015 and it was published into law on December 3, 2015.
“The Employment Act no 15 of 2015 cap 268 is indeed a Christmas and New Year present to the workers of Zambia, the majority of whom have for a long time suffered exploitation and abuse of their rights through rampant casualization,” Minister of Labour and Social Security, Fackson Shamenda said yesterday during a media briefing.
Mr Shamenda, who was accompanied by Ministry of Labour legal counsel Musonda Kulaya and Chief Planner for Press and Public Relations Miriam Zimba, said the enactment of the amended Employment Act no. 15 of 2015 into law, meant that it was now illegal for any employer to engage an employee on a casual basis for any job that was of a permanent nature.
Mr Shamenda said the new law would also regulate fixed term contracts of employment where employees would not perpetually be kept on fixed term contracts.
“The relief that the amendment Act brings is the protection of jobs for workers,” Mr Shamenda said.
He said an employer would not be allowed to terminate employment of a worker without a valid reason but that it did not insulate non-performing or indisciplined employees from being punished or dismissed because the disciplinary code would still be in force.
Mr Shamenda urged workers to ensure their productivity and discipline levels remained high.
He said the ultimate objectives of the law were to address the lack of employment security that characterized most employment relationships at the workplace.
Mr Shamenda said the objective of the law was to eliminate gross abuse and exploitation of workers’ rights, and strengthen labour administration in Zambia in line with the decent work agenda.
“As you are aware, the Patriotic Front in its manifesto promised among other issues to review the Employment Act so as to introduce clear legal provisions that will govern casualization of labour and outsourcing of services,” he said.
Mr Shamenda said the party also promised to carry out a comprehensive review and amendment of current labour related legislation such as the Factories Act which were now out-dated. He said immediately after change of government, the Patriotic Front in 2012 embarked on the comprehensive review of the labour laws which aimed at consolidating 12 pieces of legislation dealing with labour into five.
Mr Shamenda said the amendment Act No 15 of 2015 shall be read in conjunction with the Employment Act Cap 268 of the laws of Zambia.
“The amendment Act has taken into consideration the modern employment trends in line with changes in business cycles and further clarifies the various employment relationships that exist in the country,” he said.