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Government issues guidelines on layoffs

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COVID-19 | EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES

The government has issued guidelines for employers on how to deal with layoffs of employees as a result of the corona crisis.

In the guidelines, the government has instructed employers, both public and private, to consider laying off workers during and after the COVID-19 pandemic only as a last resort.

Termination of workers should be taken as a last resort after all available softer options have been exhausted, according to Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister for Gender, Labor and Social Development.

Instead, the government is encouraging employers and employees to look for what it termed as “win-win solutions through dialogue to the extent reasonably possible,” or to negotiate wages before considering terminating their employees’ services. .

He warned that any employer who, despite the associated costs and lengthy procedures, chooses to terminate the service of employees must strictly abide by the law as stipulated in Articles 58, 65 and 81 of the Labor Act 2006 and other regulations. .

Tumwebaze released the guidelines yesterday while addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Center in Kampala, where he discussed current employer-employee relations and the effects of COVID-19 on employment.

He also addressed journalists on the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, which was celebrated yesterday.

During the same post, the minister stated that the World Labor Day celebrations, scheduled for May 1 in Mbarara, have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tumwebaze explained that he recently arranged a meeting between the government and workers, who were represented by the National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU) and the Central Organization of Free Trade Unions (COFTU), as well as employers, who were represented by the Federation of Uganda. employers (FUE).

During the meeting, he explained, discussed and agreed on a number of issues related to the current issues affecting employment, including job security and possible mitigation measures.

However, he said some employers had made or are considering taking measures to reduce workers’ costs, including pay cuts and employee layoffs.

Unfortunately, without naming the companies, the minister said those most affected are struggling to meet their basic needs, including food and health care.

These include temporary workers in the formal and informal sectors, who are paid on a daily basis.

Tumwebaze said that while labor relations are “regulated by law, under the circumstances, mitigating the effects of COVID-19 on labor relations is more than a legal matter.”

He advised employers to encourage their staff to work from home to cut costs and take annual leave in anticipation.

The minister warned that dismissal of employees could entail more costs for employers, including in the form of payment of final benefits, compensation for unused leave and severance packages.

“Employers must ensure that the process of termination or layoffs is done with a humane face,” he warned. Tumwebaze added that affected workers should be advised prior to termination and employers should try to provide as much as possible for their basic needs, including providing food.

However, Tumwebaze warned sectors not adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as manufacturing and food processing, not to use the pandemic’s excuse “to arbitrarily cut staff wages or lay off staff.”

He said the ministry, in conjunction with the National Task Force on COVID-19, is working out ways to prioritize workers who have been laid off or laid off to take advantage of the food being handed out.

Local council executives, he said, have been asked not to discriminate against temporary workers by not considering them invulnerable.

Tumwebaze also said employers are required to file returns of the employees already affected or expected to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tumwebaze said the ministry will be interested to know how many workers have been laid off or taken on leave and the reasons behind the actions. He said the ministry had appointed a team to deal with employee layoffs one-on-one.

Tumwebaze said the assembly also agreed to contact Parliament to expedite the process of considering the amendment to the NSSF law as one of the tools to meet the social security needs of contributors.

Handling complaints

Tumwebaze said the ministry will take great interest in, and will continue to act on a case-by-case basis,

complaints from part-time workers and others who were out of contract by the time of the COVID-19 lockdown and were sent home without payment of what was owed to them.

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