The Industrial Court has adopted the Employment Act of 2006, as opposed to the old law of 1977, to provide for formal procedures for the creation of good relationships between employee and employer, and those for handling discipline, grievances and terminations at workplaces.
Justice Ruhinda Ntegye who heads the Industrial court says the Act has helped in streamlining employer employee relations and helped tackle among others workers’ exploitation.
Justice Ruhinda made the remarks during the first annual Labor And Employment Law Conference, organized by Signum Advocates, Human Resource Managers’ Association of Uganda and Uganda Law Society at Sheraton Kampala Hotel,
The judge noted that the Labour law regulates the relationship between the Employer and the Employee so as to ensure Industrial peace at the work place.
“Both employer and employee have duties and obligations as they perform part of their bargain,” he said.
“Many of these obligations are spelt out in the contract agreement which ordinarily governs the relationship between the two. Breach of any of the provisions of the contract carries with it legal consequences against whoever is in breach.”
The judge noted that in most cases, employers are in stronger positions since they set terms and conditions, and because the employee is vulnerable and desperately need the job, they usually accept the terms and conditions without asking questions.
If not strictly regulated as the new law provides for, he said, employers may exploit and violate their employees’ rights.
According to Patson W. Arinaitwe, a partner with Signum Advocates his law firm is one of the few local entities that have been offering specialized Employment Law & Immigration Practice to organizations that have faced vast labour disputes due to misunderstanding at workplaces that have cost time, money and reputation harm in legal battles that could have been avoided.
“We organized this conference to provide Human Resource Practitioners with insight as well as practical analysis on current developments in all critical areas of labor law and Human Resource best practices” He said.
The conference discussed the labor and employment trends with new policy shifts that have a direct impact on individuals at workplace, Mr. Arinaitwe added
Speaking at the event, Justice Linda Tumusiime, a Judge of the Industrial Court explained that the employment relationship though based on contract, is unique in the sense that it is a contract for the exchange of personal service for remuneration and in a situation of collective bargaining between Labour unions and employers, the law gives prominence to enforcement of the principles of natural justice in the management as a means to bridge the gap between the employer and employee.
“We believe that if organisations give importance to internal corporate governance and follow the principles of natural justice in both performance management and Disciplinary action, the purposes for which they are established will not only be achieved but surpassed. And such matters would not have to escalate to the industrial court and dividends both in time and money will be realised and in turn positively impact the economy as a whole” Justice Tumusiime noted
The Employment Act, 2006 was established by the Labour Office as the first court of instance in labour disputes with the primary function of conciliating disputing parties.