HARARE, August 14 (The Source) – President Robert Mugabe’s government on Friday issued new labour regulations that sought to reverse a July 17 Supreme Court ruling allowing employers to terminate contracts on notice, but analysts said the proposals could lead to more confusion and are open to legal challenge in their current form.
An estimated 20,000 workers have been laid off in the month since the court decision, with struggling firms taking advantage of the ruling to cut jobs without being encumbered by onerous retrenchment procedures.
The new regulations, dubbed Labour (General Conditions of Employment) (Termination of Employment on notice) Regulations, 2015, only allow employers to terminate employee contracts by mutual agreement, at the end of fixed-term contracts, in terms of a registered code of conduct or in terms of retrenchment procedures laid out in the law.
“These regulations shall have retrospective effect from 17 July 2015,” reads the government notice.
The government also published the Labour Amendment Bill which compels employers who have terminated employment following the Supreme Court’s July 17 ruling to follow the proposed laid down retrenchment procedures retrospectively.
However, labour experts said the proposals were unlikely to pass in their current format as they are in violation of current legislation.
“The law cannot be applied retrospectively in violation of existing rights,” labour lawyer Selby Hwacha told The Source on Friday.
If passed, the proposals were open to legal challenges by employers, he said.
Analysts also said more job losses were likely in the next few weeks as companies continue streamlining their workforce.
The Bill is subject to approval by the country’s Parliament.