KAMPALA – Domestic and migrant workers who have been mistreated over the years will have a reason to smile following the presentation of a proposed law protecting them in the course of their work.
The Private Members Bill titled the Employment (Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeks to amend the Employment Act of 2006 and provide for the regulation of domestic workers and casual workers so as to improve their working conditions. The proposed law also provides for compulsory registration and licensing of recruitment agencies for domestic workers and non-manual laborers.
“Most of the women and young people working as domestic workers are often related to their employers and this limits the applicability of the law on domestic workers,” the bill states.
The bill proposes that there is a need to amend the act to expressly recognise domestic workers and clearly provide for their regulation.
“This is especially important due to their vulnerability and susceptibility to exploitation and the fact that employers of domestic and casual employees have been reluctant to comply with the act,” the bill presented by Workers MP, Hon Agnes Kunihira reads in part.
The amendment bill also seeks to provide for the recruitment of migrant workers in Uganda and Uganda migrant workers abroad.
According to the proposed law, section 37 of the Employment Act only prohibits the illicit movement of migrant workers in and out of the country.
“There are no provisions regulating the employment of migrant workers in Uganda. This has resulted in the exploitation of migrant workers and abuse of their rights including the right to collective bargaining,” the bill states adding that, ‘there are no provisions on the recruitment and placement of Ugandan migrant workers for work abroad’.
The bill among others requires that a migrant work gets a written contract of service before departure for work in another country and receive a written job offer or contract that is enforceable in the country for which work is to be performed with the terms and conditions of work.
The bill also provides for the protection of breastfeeding mothers and for employers to put a place in policies and facilities for breastfeeding mothers.
The bill if passed into law will provide for the scope of sexual harassment in employment, an explicit formula for calculation of severance pay and to remove conditions attached to this pay.
There have been reports of mistreatment of domestic workers especially with reports of low pay and physical abuse.
Of late, there are continued reports of torture of migrant workers in the Middle East with some reportedly killed in the process.
Members of Parliament have called for the termination of licenses of some of the recruitment agencies.