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Labour draft bill finalised

Government has finalised a draft of the amended Labour Act and will soon be discussed at the Tripartite Negotiating Forum(TNF), businessdigest has learnt.

By Kudzai Kuwaza

A raft of proposed changes have been made to the Labour Act.

Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe executive director John Mufukare told businessdigest this week that they had received a copy of the draft bill.

“We received a copy of the draft bill this week,” Mufukare said. “However the copy we received is not usable and has asked for another one.”

Mufukare said they will discuss the draft bill at the TNF.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary general Japhet Moyo said they had also received a copy of the draft.

“We have received a copy of the draft bill but we are yet to go through it,” Moyo told businessdigest.

Prominent labour lawyer Rodgers Matsikidze presented the proposed changes to business based on the 13 principles agreed by the three social partners after being assigned by government to do so.

The bill put together by Matsikidze proposed that if there is dispute over retrenchment between an employer and affected employees, then both parties will be given 30 days to resolve their differences. Should the two parties fail then the issue will be taken to the retrenchment board which must come up with a resolution within 30 days. During this period, the draft bill states, the retrenched workers will remain employed at the company until the board makes a determination.

In the case where a company makes an application to the board to be exempted from the retrenchment package of two weeks pay for every year served, the bill proposes that the board be given 30 days to come with a response. The bill further proposes that employers should make an urgent application to the Labour Court if the board fails to respond within the given 30 day period.

The bill also proposed to half the notice period given by workers to employers of the intention to strike from 14 days to seven. It also proposed to remove the qualifying period of one year before a female employee can go on maternity leave. This means that a female employee can on maternity leave soon after being employed. This a clause, Matsikidze warned, that could lead to women being discriminated at the workplace with employers preferring to employ men or women past child bearing age.

The ZCT Union had initially objected to Matsikidze’s appointment and had contracted a retired judge to draft its own amendments to the Labour Act but agreed to then adopt Matsikidze’s draft bill after further negotiations.

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