By Hannah Marion Namukasa
The Employment (Amendment) Bill, 2022 that seeks to among others regulate the employment of casual workers, has been re-tabled for First Reading.
The bill was tabled by Hon. Margaret Rwabushaija (IND., Workers) during plenary sitting on Wednesday, 21 September 2022.
According to the bill, the current Employment Act only defines a casual employee but does not legislate or make provisions on employment of casual employees.
The bill, therefore, seeks to convert casual employment to long long-term employment, stating that a person shall not be employed as a casual labourer for a period exceeding four months.
“A casual employee engaged continuously for four months shall be entitled to a written contract and shall cease to be a casual employee and all rights and benefits enjoyed by other employees shall apply to him or her,” read the bill in part.
The bill also seeks to regulate the employment of Ugandans abroad by mandating the minister responsible to prescribe minimum employment standards applicable to persons who are recruited for employment abroad.
The minimum employment standards according to the bill include job description, working hours, guaranteed wages and emoluments and workers compensation benefits, and war hazard protection among others.
The bill states that the Employment (Recruitment of Migrant Workers) Regulations, 2005 does not provide principle provisions on the recruitment and placement of Ugandan migrant workers for work abroad.
It explains that the lack of comprehensive provisions regulating the recruitment and employment of migrant workers has resulted into reports of Uganda migrant workers ending up in conditions indicative of human trafficking, Iimited monitoring and protection and in the worst scenarios losing lives.
Further to that, the bill seeks to regulate employment of migrant workers in Uganda, arguing that the current Employment Act only prohibits the illicit movements of migrant workers in and out of the country.
The proposed law tasks an employer to ensure that the migrant worker has a valid work permit, as well as keep register of all migrant workers employed at the work place.
“A person who contravenes this section commits an offence and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding two hundred currency points or imprisonment not exceeding three years, or both,” the bill read in part.
The proposed law further intends to mandate employers to establish reasonable lactation stations for breastfeeding mothers at workplaces.
“Upon the expiry of a female employee’s maternity leave, an employer shall, accord the female breastfeeding employee a daily thirty-minute breastfeeding break in every two hours of continuous work, or reduction of the contractual hours of daily work for an additional sixty working days,” the bill further reads in part.
The bill argues that although Article 40 (4) of the Constitution provides for the protection of every female worker during pregnancy and after birth, the current Employment Act does not contain comprehensive and explicit provision promoting the rights of breastfeeding mothers.
Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa referred the bill to the Committee on Gender, Labour and Social Development.
The Private Member’s Bill, authored by Worker’s MP, Hon. Agnes Kunihira, was first passed in the 10th Parliament.
It was one of the several bills that lapsed, according to Rule 235(1) of the Rules of Procedure. The provision provides that a bill, petition, or other business or a committee lapses with the term of Parliament.