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LABOUR AMENDMENT BILL H.B. 14, 2021
LABOUR AMENDMENT AMENDMENT BILL, 2021
The Bill will amend the Labour Act [Chapter 28:01]. The amendments are being
made to align the Labour Act with section 65 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the
International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions ratified by Zimbabwe. In order
to align with section 65 of the Constitution, this Bill will expound on the rights to fair
and safe labour practices and standards.
The review also seeks to promote ease of doing business principles through
streamlining and promoting timely conclusion of processes, particularly the labour
dispute settlement and retrenchment processes.
The Bill also takes care of emerging issues in the world of work such as labour
broking, violence and harassment at the work place and emerging forms of employment
relationships with a view to closing the lacuna in the existing legislation thus entrenching
fair labour standards contemplated in section 65 of the Constitution.
The Bill is a product of extensive consultations among representatives of
Government, Business and Labour within the auspices of the Tripartite Negotiating
Forum (TNF). It therefore represents convergence of competing interests among the
In more detail, the individual clauses of the Bill provide as follows:
This clause sets out the Bill’s short title.
This clause amends the existing section 2 of the Act by including the definitions of
“gender-based violence and harassment” and “violence and harassment”. The addition
of these definitions expands the protection given to employees from the actions of their
employers or other employees.
This clause in addition to existing types of work from being forced labour, exempts
any work that may be conducted as part of communal work or services.
This clause will place an obligation on employers to pay male and female
employees equally for work of the same value. The new provision broadens the scope of
the principle of equal pay for work of equal value to tackle occupational sex segregation
in the labour market.
This clause amends section 6 to prohibit violence and harassment at the workplace,
including violence and harassment of a sexual based nature or gender based nature.
This clause amends section 8 by including as unfair labour practice the actions
by employer who engages in actions that amount to violence and harassment. Clause
This clause amends section 11 (Employment of young persons) by increasing the
penalty a person found guilty of conducting child labour from two to ten years with
a view to providing a more deterrent sanction given the backdrop of increasing trade
sanctions on goods produced in child labour prone markets.
This clause amends section 12 to unambiguously deal with the issue of the common
law practice of termination on notice and also deal with issues of casualization by
making provision that a fixed term contract cannot be for a period that is less than 12
months, unless the employment is for seasonal or causal work or for the performance
of a specific service.
This clause further provides that an employer who employs the majority of his or
her employees on fixed term contracts will have make use of retrenchment provisions
when the contracts are terminated.
This clause further provides for termination of contracts for breach of express
or implied conditions of service after a due process (procedural fairness) in line with
applicable and established code of conduct or agreed disciplinary procedure.
This clause replaces section 12C to provide essential definitions related to
retrenchment and makes provisions to ensure that employer’s obligation to pay the
retrenchment package to his or her employees is fulfilled, taking into account any
employer that deliberately diminishes his or her capacity to pay the retrenchment
package and also making sure that employees are free to make representations to the
Retrenchment Board where they allege that an employer has the capacity to pay a better
retrenchment package than that offered.
This clause further provides a process for effecting enforcement of non-payment
of a retrenchment package through the Labour Court.
This clause inserts a new section to ensure that employees do not evade having to
pay retrenchment packages to their employees by fraudulently or recklessly conducting
their business in a manner that renders the employer unable to pay such retrenchment
This clause amends section 18 to align the Labour Act to section 65(7) of the
Constitution to ensure that women employees have the right to fully paid maternity
leave for a period of 3 months by removing qualifying periods, prescribed intervals for
maternity and a maximum number of times for enjoying the right to maternity leave
under one employer.
This clause inserts a new section that makes provision for the manner in which
an employer can engage employees on contracts for hourly work against the backdrop
of new forms of contracts called “zero hour contracts” wherein workers are only paid
for actual hours worked in the event of work stoppage not caused by the employee.
These contracts may not prohibit employees from seeking other work. This section
clause also mandates the employer to pay up the difference of what the employees earn
and the minimum wage where employees do not earn the minimum wage for a period
of two months.
This clause further provides for fair labour practices in labour brokerage
arrangements in that, it affords protection for employees in such arrangements by
making the labour broker and employer both liable to the employee. This deals with
mischief that comes with triangular employment relationships which circumvent
employer obligations and responsibilities including fair remuneration of workers.
This clause further gives clarity to the responsibilities of parties to a labour
This clause provides for the Minister to be a party to a collective bargaining
agreement where statutory bodies or entities controlled by the State are parties to a
collective bargaining agreement to cure the mischief of unsustainable employments
costs being agreed upon by parties to a CBA in statutory bodies or entities controlled
by the state.
Clauses 14 and 15
Clause 14 makes an addition to the matters that a works council may be consulted
on by the employer by adding paid educational leave to the scope of collective
bargaining thus mainstreaming ILO Convention 140 on Paid Educational Leave ratified
Clause 15 deletes the need for the Minister to specify the maximum amount that
can be set for membership fees of trade union, employers organization or federation.
This clause removes the need for accreditation proceedings during the application
for registration of a trade union, employers organisations or federation.
This clause makes addition to the requirements for application for registration
of a trade union, employers organisations or federation, namely the requirement to
specify the physical head office of the organisation and submission of the minutes of
the meeting of the organisation. This is meant to deal with mushrooming of briefcase
unions seeking registration without known offices or proven membership.
This clause requires every trade union, employers organisation or federation to
submit vital information to the Registrar, such as the auditor’s report and change of
address for the service of documents.
This clause amends section 45 by providing a set out criteria for the Registrar in
considerations for variation, suspension and rescission of registration of trade unions
or employers organisations.
This clause amends section 51 to remove the provision of supervision of elections
of trade unions by labour Officers which has been noted conflicts with principles of
freedom of association as it constitutes interference in internal affairs of trade unions.
Clauses 21 and 22
Clause 21 amends section 54 by removing the involvement of the Minister in the
collection of union dues.
Clause 22 repeals section 55 which empowered Minister to regulate union dues.
This clause repeals and substitutes section 56 of the existing Act to ensure that
all employment councils are governed as statutory employment councils to improve
governance oversight as voluntary employment council were claiming autonomy given
their voluntary nature. This clause also provides for some trade unions or employer
organisations to be admitted to employment council meetings as observers were they
are not allocated any seats.
This clause amends section 58 of the existing Act by requiring employment
councils to provide for the admission of new parties to employment council in their
This clause amends section 63 of the existing Act in order to ensure that the matter
of dispute or unfair labour practice are redressed by allowing a labour officer to assume
jurisdiction over such matters where they have not been attended to by a designated
agent within a period of 30 days. This allows for access to justice to concerned parties
in places where there are no Designated Agents of the National Employment Councils
(NECS) and in situations of inordinate delays by NECs.
This clause will allow for negotiations of conditions for paid education leave to
take place at an employment council, as well as allow the Minister to be party to such
negotiations where a statutory body or State entity is involved.
Clauses 27 and 28
Clause 27 amends section 79 in this clause removes the requirement for collective
bargaining agreements to be subjected to Ministerial approval on the grounds that
the agreement is or has become unfair or unreasonable. The parties to the collective
bargaining agreement themselves have the right of redress should any part of their
agreement is unfair or unreasonable.
Clause 28 repeals and replaces subsection (1) of section 81 to the same effect that
the parties to a collective bargaining agreement may address any unfair or unreasonable
provision of their collective bargaining agreement.
This clause enunciates the right in section 65(4) of the Constitution to secure just,
equitable and satisfactory conditions of work through a system of collective bargaining
established by law.
This clause replaces section 93 of the Act to allow for registration with a Court
a dispute or unfair labour practice settlement and for the labour officer to issue a
certificate of settlement which will have the effect of a civil judgement. This ensures
expeditions resolution of labour disputes given the complexity and cumbersome nature
of the existing system.
This clause amends section 98 of the Act and strengthens the powers of the Labour
Court and labour officer over the arbitration process.
This clause inserts in section 101 the requirement to periodically review every
registered employment code of conduct every 5 years.
This clause creates a distinction between the liability that is attached to people
who engage in unlawful job action in a case where essential services are involved and
any other case.
This clause repeals section 111.
This clause amends section 112 and likewise in the amendment to section 109
differentiates between the liability that is attached to people who engage in unlawful
job action in a case where essential services are involved and any other case.
This clause amends section 120 of the Act with a view to streamline the Ministry’s
powers to regulate administrative issues of trade unions and employers organisations,
by ensuring that where there is a real risk that the funds or property of the organisation
will be lost, the Minister may appoint a provisional administrator.
This clause makes provision for such minor amendments as are necessary to the Act.