By Hon Agnes Kunihira, MP.
The Employment Amendment Act will ensure every employee is entitled to protection from sexual harassment and violence at workplaces. Women working in the informal sector who have for long fought sexual harassment at work places will be covered by the employment Amendment Bill 2019..
The Bill concerning the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work focus not only on formal but also on informal sector workers who represent more than 80%of Uganda’s working population.
It makes it the employer’s principle responsibility to ensure the vice is not condoned in the workplace.
The Bill covers the formal and informal economy as well as public and private spaces, for example protecting the rights of women when commuting to and from work
Acknowledging that violence and harassment in the world of work affects a person’s psychological, physical and sexual health, dignity, and family and social environment
Violence and harassment also affects the quality of public and private services, and may prevent persons, particularly women from accessing and remaining and advancing in the labour market.
Violence and harassment is incompatible with the promotion of sustainable enterprises and impacts negatively on the organization of work, workplace relations, worker engagement, enterprise reputation, and productivity,
Domestic violence can affect employment, productivity plus health and safety, but with the law in place governments employers’ and workers’ organizations and labour market institutions will help as part of other measures, to recognize, respond to and address the impacts of domestic violence
Uganda’s current sexual harassment legislation “was clearly made with women in the formal sector in mind
Regulations only require employers to have a sexual harassment policy, to cover women working in both formal and informal sector who also “often don’t have an ‘employer’ being held accountable to labour unions and other stakeholders.
There is considered sexual harassment at work that goes unnoticed but with the policy in place workers who experience sexual misconduct will be in position to file claims following the proper rules and guidelines put in place
When the Bill becomes law trade Unions could do more to support these informal mechanisms, “including providing them with more information on how to handle investigations, and working with labour officers to access and guide workers that have been neglected”.
To protect women working in the informal sector, better recognition of their contribution to the economy is needed. The informal sector contributes greatly to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but when it comes to issues of protection they are suddenly invisible, “Government should be made to realize this is an important part of the economy that deserves the same amount of respect and protection as anywhere else.”
Highlights of the section 7A the employment Amendment Bill 2019.
1. An employer shall not mistreat, cause or permit an employee to be mistreated by any other person.
2. Mistreatment under subsection (1) include
(a) Physical abuse
(b) Intimidation of an employee
(c) The employer or other person does or causes an employee to do any act which causes or is likely to cause injury to health or safety of the worker
(d) The employer or other person who neglects or abandons an employee in circumstances which cause or is likely to cause injury to health or threatens the safety of the employee
(e) The employer or other person commits an act that is detrimental to the welfare of the employee
(f) Causing grievous harm to the employee,
(g) Wrongful confinement,
(h) Insulting the modesty of an employee, or
(i) Withholding food and other basic necessities where applicable■
About the Author
Hon Agnes Kunihira is Female Workers Member of Parliament 2016 – 2021