The Labour Amendment Act number 5 of 2015 has come into force following President Robert Mugabe’s assent to the bill which sailed through the National Assembly and Senate last week in response to the sacking of thousands of employees following the July 17 Supreme Court ruling.
The new law effectively comes as a major relief to employees who were uncertain of their future as most companies were taking advantage of the common law position which allowed employers to fire workers on three months’ notice.
The land mark Supreme Court ruling on July 17 in the famous Zuva case reinforced the common law position which gave equal rights to termination of contract on notice to both employers and employees.
This had devastating effects on employees who had to walk away without retrenchment packages regardless of their length of service.
The new act now requires that where there are no agreed terms between employer and employee or their representatives, a minimum package of not less than one month’s salary for every two years served shall be payable to the employee as compensation for loss of employment occasioned by retrenchment, among other issues.
Section 12 of the Labour Act chapter 28;01 as amended by the new act, has a transitional provision which stipulates that the law applies to all employees whose services were terminated on three month’s notice on or after the 17th of July 2015.
Meanwhile, Zimbabweans from all walks of life have welcomed the signing of the law, saying the development will bring back normalcy to the labour market which had been characterised by firing of workers by employers who were taking advantage of the 17th of July Supreme Court ruling.
However, many people had reservations as whether employers will abide by the new law and award the workers they retrenched the minimum packages as is now required under the new law.
Legislators were recalled from their recess to pass the amendments as promised by the President after it became apparent that companies were in a hurry to lay off workers taking advantage of the Supreme Court ruling that had legalised the termination of employment on three months’ notice and without benefits.