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Covid19: Gov’t Issues Guidelines on Laying Off Workers

Government through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development has come out to discourage employers from rushing to lay off their workers amid the grinding economic effects of the global Coronavirus pandemic.

Ministry officials yesterday acknowledge that many companies are already hurting because of the tight restrictions in Uganda and internationally, and that the situation will get worse.

But State Minister for Labour, Employment and Industrial Relations, Hon. Mwesigwa Rukutana nonetheless urged these companies to try and retain most of their workers, especially those under contract.

“The employers should retain the employees who are on monthly pay since termination at this stage may become costly in terms of payment of terminal benefits (i.e. severance pay; repatriation; payment in lieu of notice; payment in lieu of leave; compulsory compensation, any other damages),” the Minister said.

In order to cut costs, the ministry advised that such workers should be encouraged to take pending annual leave and or leave without pay upon agreement with their employers.

As for the employees who are still under casual, Rukutana said, “their engagement terms may be reviewed and some of them can be advised to stay home.”

Guidelines

But in the event that a company cannot avoid laying off its workers, the Ministry says all affected employees should be given notice in accordance with provisions under Sections 58 and 81 of the Employment Act 2006.

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“The processes should have a humane face and clearly written and signed agreement between parties and timeframe,” Rukutana added.

“Workers should be prepared or counselled prior to termination or during the period of notice, including those that have been affected by the pandemic.”

In other guidelines Hon Rukutana says there should be commitment that workers should be reengaged when the work normalizes and that terminal benefits that accrue should be paid when an employer decides to terminate employment relationship unless otherwise agreed.

Meanwhile, the Ministry has since suspended labour externalization to middle eastern countries for a period of 30 days.

The countries in focus are United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Somalia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Afghanistan and Iraq.

 

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