What are the rights of workers?

What are the rights of workers?

The rights of workers stem from the constitution of Uganda 1995 – article 40 that provides for Economic Right and The Employment Act, 2006.

  • Right to be issued by the employer written particulars of employment- these basically the terms and conditions of work
  • Right to be paid in time and as agreed with the employer.
  • Right to annual leave – minimum of 21 days, the employer can give more than this
  • Right to maternity leave of 60 working days for female workers upon giving birth or getting a miscarriage. During this period the employer must pay the employee fully. This cannot be used as a reason for termination.
  • Right to a paternity leave of 4 days for male employees/workers upon their wives giving birth or getting a miscarriage. It should be noted that by law a wife is a person who has contracted any of the legally recognised marriages including customary, civil and religious marriages
  • Right to form or join a union of his/her choice to promote and protect his work interests. The employer is mandated to recognise any labour union that any of his/her employees belong. The employer also has to make monthly deductions from the employee’s wages as union dues and submit the same to the union to which the employee belongs
  • Right to work under satisfactory, safe and healthy conditions.
  • Right to equal pay for equal work done without discrimination on grounds of age, sex. Colour, race, tribe and political opinion
  • Right to rest and reasonable working hours- an employee can rest during lunch time, work for 8 hours or 10 hours a day in case he/she works in shifts. Any hours in excess hours becomes overtime and the employee should be compensated for it. It should be noted that for one to qualify for overtime, the employer or the conditions of work must have required the employee to stay working.
  • Right to be given protective gears and tools of work during work- the employee should not be charged for tools, materials or protective gears. It is at the expense of the employer
  • Right to be issued a certificate of service by the employer. - this certificate should not reflect the reason why the employee left the workplace and should not be detrimental to the worker’s future earnings prospects. There is always a misconception between a recommendation letter and a certificate of service- the certificate of service is mandatory whereas the recommendation letter is not. An employer can decline to give a recommendation letter but cannot refuse to issue a certificate of service.
  • Right to be heard before the decision to dismiss is reached by the employer- the case should be communicated to the worker, date, place and time of hearing, the worker is free to bring another person and witness during the hearing, the employer must give time to the worker to prepare his/her case. If employer omits these procedures, it will amount to wrongful dismissal and the employer shall be penalised accordingly.
  • Right to notice before termination of his or her contract of employment- notice depends on the period of service by the employee with the employer. For probationary contracts, 14 working days or payment in lieu of 7 working days, for an employee who has worked for more than six months but less than year- notice period is 2 weeks or payment in lieu of the two weeks wages, where an employee has worked for more than 12 months but less than 5 years, 1 month, where an employee has worked for 5 years but less than 10 years, 2 months and where an employee has worked for 10 years and above 3 months’ notice.
  • Right to a pay statement/slip every month. This statement must show the employees gross salary, the deductions made from his/her salary and the net pay.
  • Right to sick leave. An employee who has completed not less than one month’s continuous service and who is incapable of work because of sickness or injury is entitled to full wages during the first month of absence from work due to sickness or injury. In the second month, the employer to pay half and in the third month, the employer can terminate the contract of employment by giving notice or paying in lieu of notice. It should be noted that the first and second months when the employee has been sick do not serve as the notice period.
  • Right to severance allowance- the law requires an employer to pay severance allowance where an employee has been in his or her continuous service for a period of six months or more and where any of the following situations apply:
  • The employee is unfairly dismissed by the employer
  • The employee dies in the service of his or her employer, other than by an act occasioned by his or her own serious and willful misconduct
  • The employee terminates his or her contract because of physical incapacity not occasioned by his or her own serious and willful misconduct
  • The contract is terminated by reason of the death or insolvency of the employer
  • The contract is terminated by a labour officer following the inability or refusal of the employer to pay wages
  • Such other circumstances as the Minister may, by regulations, provide.

No severance allowance is payable when:

  • Summary dismissal is justified.
  • An employee dismissed but unreasonably refuses to accept an offer of re-employment by the employer at the same place of work.
  • Employee abandons employment or absconds from his or her place of work without leave for a period of more than three days without any explanation to the employer.
  • An employer is a partner and employment ceases on the dissolution of the partnership.
  • Enters the employment of one or more of such partners immediately after such dissolution; or
  • An employee is offered and unreasonably refuses employment on less favourable terms by one or more of such partners.
  • Employer dies and employee either:
  • Enters the employment of a personal representative, widow, widower, or heir to the deceased employer; or
  • Where the contract terminated is a probationary contract

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