Zimbabwe Removes Clause Allowing Employers To Terminate Contracts On Short Notice
The Zimbabwe National Assembly has removed a clause that allowed employers to terminate permanent staff contracts with just three months’ notice. This action was taken after the country’s Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that companies could end staff contracts at any time without offering them compensation, provided they received at least three months’ notice. The ruling led to an increase in terminations of employment without disciplinary action, and had been considered a burden to the country’s labour laws.
During debates on the Labour Amendment Bill, the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi, agreed to remove the requirement of notice. The Bill also proposed the use of “labour brokerage arrangements” to be removed, as it was deemed to be modern-day slavery.
In his submission, Harare East legislator Mr Tendai Biti said the import of the Zuva Petroleum judgment was to create an untenable situation on the labour law in the country. He said:
When that happened, labour law died because what is the point of having a disciplinary hearing when you can simply give three months’ notice? We need to go back to the status quo. We need to go back to the old position where you cannot terminate on notice. In other words, we need to remove no-fault termination and go back to fault termination to protect workers. You are allowed to employ seasonal workers, but a normal industrial worker should only be terminated on fault. That means that the only no-fault situation is retrenchment
During discussions on the Labour Amendment Bill in the National Assembly, opposition CCC legislators proposed amendments for paternity leave, which were rejected by Minister Ziyambi. However, the Minister agreed to remove a Clause on “labour brokerage arrangements” after legislators argued that it was a form of “modern-day slavery.” These arrangements involve a middle-man employing their own workers who are then sub-employed to a third party, such as cleaning services. The Bill was passed in the National Assembly and will now be sent to the Senate for approval.
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The Zimbabwean National Assembly also passed two other bills: the Electricity Amendment Bill and the Children’s Amendment Bill. The Electricity Amendment Bill aims to impose deterrent sentences for those who vandalize electricity infrastructure, while the Children’s Amendment Bill aligns the Children’s Act with the Constitution and international conventions to strengthen child protection.
The Parliament also continued discussions on the Electoral Amendment Bill, with lawmakers agreeing that there was duplication of duties between the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Registrar General in voter registration and document issuance. The Registrar General’s office was suggested as a solution as it issues national identity documents. However, any changes would require a constitutional amendment. Minister Ziyambi suggested that the Delimitation Commission be separated from the electoral body to avoid conflicts during elections, but any changes would be kept in mind for future parliamentary sessions.