I don’t know whether some lecturer took you through the Ugandan labour industry but I would like to do so. First off I want you to know that labour is a way of life and having limited knowledge about it is like a man who goes out to hunt without a spear and that puts you in an awkward position.
Your labour is a tool that will help other people you work for achieve their dreams, your labour will achieve your dreams of raising a family of educated kids, have a car, own land, businesses and lead a comfortable life.
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Your labour will build a name for you in your industry of choice, for some people the moment you mention an industry their names come up first because they made their names become the legends of what they laboured at.
Some have created these legends in medicine, football, the entertainment industry and the political industry but they didn’t do it blindly. But sadly that is who you are; you are sad little puppies vying to get into an industry you have no clue about. I know most of you are thinking, how dare she!!!
But let’s be honest here you are thinking about your graduation parties more than you are thinking about what you are going to walk into in your job search. The idiots, the bastards, the sexual predators, the manipulators and the thieves. Yes!! they are waiting for your fresh faces with spite written all over their faces but all you are thinking about is where you are dropping your application letter first without an idea about Uganda’s labour laws.
Some of you are more concerned about the scarcity of jobs, discrimination at the available jobs, exploitation and low pay but none of you knows how to protect yourselves from all these injustices that will be committed against you in the job market.
It would be vain of me to imagine you have an idea because we all know your minds are fixated on becoming part of the working class routine without a care of what’s in the HR manual. All you want is to tell whoever cares to listen you work with such and such a company, that’s what’s important to you right now.
But when your probation period goes beyond 6 months to two years you’ll start hating the people you work for. Or when your are made acting accountant for 7 years as if you can take up an acting role for such a long time and remain the same as you started out or When you get terminated indefinitely without a warning letter after five years of hard work and commitment all you’ll do is die silently with thoughts of betrayal and anger.
Curse the system and how it has not protected you, yet the system took time to put down laws that protect you but you spent hours looking for instant gratification instead career sustainability.
Today I took time to read through Uganda’s labour laws to find ways in which I can protect myself in my contractual work and you won’t believe what I found. That is why I’m sharing this because I believe knowledge is power and together we can change the world through education.
Here are some of the most amazing realizations I made from the Uganda labour laws, my own regret is I wish I knew all this before I negotiated my first salary and benefits plus much more. Enjoy.
Notice requirement before termination (firing)
The above law requires termination notice before terminating services of an employee. An employee may be terminated after serving due or paying in lieu of notice. Length of notice period depends on the length of service. i-
Notice period is at least 2 weeks, for a period of service of more than 6 months but less than 1 year;
Notice period is at least 1 month, for a period of service of more than 12 months but less than 5 years;
Notice period is at least 2 months, for a period of service of more than 5 months but less than 10 years;
Notice period is at least 3 months, for a period of service of 10 years or more. (Section 58 of the Employment Act, 2006)
Maximum length of probation period is 6 months. However, it may be extended to 1 year with the consent of an employee. (Section 67 of the Employment Act, 2006)
The Workers Compensation Act Cap 225
The Workers Compensation Act Cap. 225 entitles employees to automatic compensation for any personal injury from an accident arising out and in the course of his employment, even if the injury results from the employee’s negligence.
The Act further details that, for an injury that leads to death, the compensation should be equivalent to an employer’s monthly pay multiplied by 60 months. “Under this Act, compensation is automatic.
The compensation is to be paid by the employer whether the worker was injured as a result of his own mistake or not,” it states.
In case an employee fails to resolve a dispute with their employers, they can contact the Directorate of Labour in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development from where the matter can be resolved.
In accordance with article 21 of the Constitution of Uganda, all human being are equal before the law and no person can be discriminated against on any ground including sex, race, colour, ethnic origin, tribe, birth, creed or religion, social or economic standing, political opinion or disability. The Employment Act adds HIV status to the list of protected class. (Section 6 of the Employment Act, 2006)
The Constitution of Uganda, 1995 recognizes the right to equal pay for work of equal value (article 40). In accordance with section 6 of the Employment Act, every worker should receive equal pay for work of equal value.
Job security during Illness
As per section 55 of the Employment Act, an employer can’t dismiss a worker during his/her first two months of sickness, or on account of pregnancy or disability. However, if on the expiration of two months, an employee’s sickness still continues, employer is entitled to terminate the contract.
Severance Pay (Payment made after firing)
There is a provision in the law regarding severance pay but this compensation is subject to negotiation between the employer and the worker. The worker must be in the continuous employment (of a particular employer) for at least 6 months. (Section 87-92 of the Employment Act, 2006)