JOB HELL! MPs want 7-year jail term for employers who mistreat workers

By our reporter

Agnes Kunihira (Workers Representative) has moved a private member’s bill seeking to amend the Employment Act 2006 and criminalise actions of employees mistreating their employees, and have the culprits jailed for seven years.

Kunuhira proposed an insertion of new section to the principal Act to prohibit mistreatment, harassment and violence against an employee where she is seeking to criminalise actions of employers mistreating, harassing, committing violence, cause or permit an employee to be mistreated, harassed or violated by any other person.

The legislator further seeks to define; Mistreatment, harassment, and violence to include; Physical abuse, Intimidation of an employee, the employer or an agent of the employer doing or causing an employee to do any act which causes or is likely to cause injury to health or safety of the employee, wrongful confinement, insulting the modesty of an employee or Withholding food and other basic necessities where applicable.

She proposed; A person who contravenes this section commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding forty two currency points about Shs840,000 or imprisonment not exceeding seven years or both.

The Employment Amendment Bill 2022 also seeks to stipulate terms and conditions for casual labourers by stipulating in clause 10(1); A person shall not be employed as a casual labourer for a period exceeding four months and any casual employee engaged continuously for four months shall be entitled to a written contract and shall cease to be a casual employee and all rights and benefits enjoyed by other employees shall apply to him or her.

Lawmaker Kunihira is also seeking to amend Section 39 of the principal Act by requiring an employee recruited for employment at a place which is more than fifty kilometres from his or her home shall have the right to be repatriated to his or her place of recruitment at the expense of the employer.

The Bill further stipulates that the repatriation of the employees shall be calculated at a minimum compensatory rate of 7km to one litre of fuel (Petrol) from the work town to home town plus a sum of 25 currency points (Shs 500,000) as facilitation from home to village or place of domicile.

Deputy Speaker Tayebwa also used the opportunity of the tabling of the legislation to warn the Secretary to Treasury, against refusal to reply to requests by MPs for certificate of financial implication, saying this curtails efforts by lawmakers to execute their legislative duties.

“You know that to protect ourselves, we said that once we submit and wait for 60days, and the Secretary to Treasury hasn’t responded, then we consider he has cleared the bill because we don’t want the bills to be frustrated in that manner,” said Tayebwa.

His remarks were in response by Margaret Rwabushaija (Workers MP) who tabled the bill on behalf of Kunihira revealing that despite writing to the Ministry of Finance in May 2022, there was no reply on how the proposed legislation would impact on the consolidated fund.

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