KAMPALA —Women Members of Parliament have resurrected the Employment Amendment Bill and asked Parliament to fast-track consideration of the same—saying it affects lives of hundreds of demostic and migrant workers.
The MPs under their umbrella body, Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) said the proposed amendments are long overdue and contains very critical changes to what is considered one of the main employment legislations in Uganda.
Speaking at a consultative meeting organised by UWOPA in partnership with Action Aid International Uganda, UWOPA Chairperson Sarah Opendi said that the primary objective of the Employment Amendment Bill 2022 that’s before Parliament is to address challenges that migrant workers are facing but also increase the welfare and protection of workers in the country.
“Currently, people are working in our homes but they’re not protected and we need to have them also formalised,” Ms Opendi said. “There is alot of issues concerning causal laborers which need also to be addressed because we also see that employers are taking advantage of causal laborers and we need to do away with this exploitation by formalizing them in the employment bill”.
Under this bill, Ms. Opendi, also the Tororo District Woman MP said that the much sought-after bill also seeks to ensure that the provisions of Uganda’s labour laws are in line with the acceptable international labour standards
The MPs have also renewed the demand for the much sought-after Minimum Wage provision, with stakeholders asking the cabinet and President Museveni to consider the changing dynamics including the cost of living among other factors.
“We have discussed the issue of the minimum wage bill severally. Both cabinet and President Museveni need listen to the cries of Ugandans. Our people are being exploited in factories and we are silent about it,” she said.
“The 9th and the 10th Parliament have both discussed this and I hope the 11th Parliament can be able to adopt this and we hope that His Excellency the President will actually see the need for having the minimum wage and approving it in the bill that is supposed to be before Parliament in a few weeks’ time,” she said.
Ms. Margaret Rwabushaija, the Workers Representative in Parliament who seconded the bill said that many women have gained employment as house maids yet they are not catered for in the old law.
“Domestic workers play a crucial role in facilitating the working men and women to participate in the economic development of the country but are not recognized and regulated. The Act of 2006 cannot protect the workers clearly leaving them out,” she added.
“No permit is required for an employer to employ a domestic worker. This leaves the worker exposed to emotional, sexual and physical abuse,” she said.
The Employment Amendment Bill was first passed by the 10th Parliament but was affected after former Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah guided the House that all business of the 10th Parliament that remained incomplete, lapsed when the term of that Parliament came to an end.
Among the proposed amendments is the regulation of employment of domestic workers and casual employees in Uganda so as to improve their working conditions, to provide for compulsory registration and licensing of recruitment agencies for domestic workers and non-manual laborers and to provide for an explicit formula for calculation of severance pay among others.
The bill also seeks to remove the conditions attached to payment of severance pay, provide for the recruitment and employment of migrant workers in Uganda and Uganda migrant workers abroad and to provide for scope of sexual harassment in employment.