SMEs Given Tips On Job Contracts

Last week, I was called to assist a small business to put in place fixed term contracts for seven existing employees for the first time and I was very glad to ensure that fixed term contracts for the period of one year were availed to them.

And what pleased me most was the fact that this small business for the first time also put in place the minimum wage for the employees and I guided it to segment the salaries for workers according to the demarcations as instructed by the government.

These will be basic pay, transport allowance and lunch allowance to reach a gross pay of the required minimum wage.

Today, I want to interact with the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and share with them the importance of employment contracts for the employees that they engage as one way of ensuring that workers’ interests are taken into account.

The Ministry of Labour in conjunction with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has come up with minimum labour conditions of service that SMEs can enforce at the places of business.

It is important to note that the Government through the Ministry of Labour expects SMEs to enforce these conditions at places of work and any grievances raised by either the employer or the employee in the absence of any labour conditions are mirrored in these minimum conditions.

In the event of an employee suffering unfair treatment by the employer that sometimes results in the unfair dismissal, the minimum labour conditions of service are referred to.

These days, labour offices, especially here in Lusaka are fully-packed on each day by employees from various organisations who rush there to air their grievances to seek redress.

And the good part of these conditions are that they act as referee ensuring that if the employee is at fault, the conditions of service can not spare that employee from reprisals.

On the other hand, the minimum labour conditions protect the employees from the unfair treatment that the employer may carry out on the unsuspecting employees.

For example, employees are made to work overtime over the normal working hours and sometimes they are not paid the overtime and yet, the labour conditions of service expect the employer to pay the worker who works above normal working hours one-and-a-half hourly or daily rate and if the employee is made to work on Sundays or any public holiday the hourly or daily rate must be doubled.

According to the ILO, the normal working hours is 48 in a week and that any hours worked above 48 must be treated as overtime and must be remunerated accordingly.

I want to aise SMEs to ensure that they hand employment contracts to the employees that they engage in their businesses.

Private companies these days give out fixed term contracts beginning from one year period and give gratuity at the end of that fixed period and in this way, they are not tied to that employee or the employee tied to them.

Contracts are not life threatening procedures as some employers may think, but rather give a guide to how the employer and employee may relate to each other in times of grievances.

For example, what should happen in case the employee dies on duty?

What about the maternity leave for the female employee and the leave days accumulated in a month?

Such questions can be answered by the fixed term contract signed defining minimum labour conditions as stipulated by the Ministry of Labour.

It must be mentioned here that minimum labour conditions can be improved upon by the employer to move them to the standard as felt pleasing by the employer and this is the reason as to why established big companies have a labour union that from year to year, lobby for the new conditions coming after the one in force at that particular time.

There are two types of contracts obtaining on the job market, the open end contract and fixed term contract.

The open end contract is signed by employees who have long running job contracts spilling into pensionable jobs while the fixed term contracts are short term contracts usually enforced in a year attracting the gratuity at the end of it.

These days companies are adopting fixed term contracts for various reasons ranging from not tying themselves to employees and running away

from pension schemes for workers.

And on the other hand, professionals feel safe not to be tied to one job and instead, move from one job to another.

However, the important fact to note among the SMEs is that, job contracts are necessary to enforce in order to harmonise good working.

relationships.

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Source : The Times of Zambia

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