Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (Ecam) has said the amended Employment Act should not affect doing of business, but foster a conducive environment for industrial relations to enhance productivity and competitiveness.
On Friday, Ecam—a grouping of private sector employers—held a day-long workshop in Blantyre to brief its members on the planned amendment of Employment Act Section 57 (2).
The section stipulates that employment shall not be terminated for reasons connected with capacity or conduct before the employee is given an opportunity to defend himself against the allegations made.
Stakeholders at the workshop argued the section is in conflict with article 13 and 14 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 158 which recommends that an employer should notify competent authorities when contemplating termination of employment.
The ILO convention was ratified by the Malawi Government on October 1 1986.
Ecam president Emmanuel Banda said they have not yet made their suggestions to be included in the amended Act as they are still consulting.
Said Banda: “We, however, believe that the amendment should not be a constraint to doing business, but must foster a conducive environment for industrial relations to achieve productivity and competitiveness.”
In her presentation titled Dealing with Retrenchment and Redundancies: The Employer’s Perspective, Justice Rachael Sikwese, who is also executive director of Labour Laws Services, called on employers to be familiar with labour laws to avoid losing money in payments following court disputes due to wrong decisions.
“Employers need to avoid shortcuts when making sensitive decisions such as retrenchments and redundancies; make sure you are able to defend your decision failing which you may end up losing huge sums of money in court,” she said.
Justice Matonga, a human resources specialist, asked employers to develop a good working relationship with their employees.
He described collective bargaining as a hallmark of industrial development, adding that sour relationships between employer and employees minimise productivity.
After soliciting views from its members, Ecam will draft and circulate a subsequent position paper for validation among the advocacy and lobbying subcommittee before it is sent to the Ministry of Labour and Manpower Development.