The Ethiopian Parliament has approved new Labor Proclamation No.1156/2019 to repeal and replace the existing Labor Proclamation which has been in place for more than a decade. The newly passed labour law aims at synchronizing the law with the country’s current economic and social growth, development policies and strategies along with industrial developments. It was believed that passing a new labour law will create favorable labour environment for FDI and achievement of national economic goals without out scarifying fundamental workplace rights by laying down well considered labour administration
In the preamble says that the new bill was designed in-line with the country’s economic growth, development policies, and strategies along with industrial developments helps guarantee the right of workers and employers to form their respective associations and engage through their lawfully elected representatives as well as lay down the procedure for the expeditious settlement of labor disputes, which arise between workers and employers. The new law has replaced main provisions of the previous labour law including:
1. Probation period
According to the repealed labour law, contract for probation period can only be made for a maximum of 45 consecutive days. However, the newly passed law has allowed parties to increase contract for probation period for the maximum of 60 working days beginning from the first date of employment. This will give the employer more time to test the suitability of the worker in the assigned post.
2. Termination of employment relations
The repealed labour law states that repeated and unjustified tardiness despite warning is a cause for termination without notice by the employer. However, the repealed law was ambiguous as to what amounts to repeated tardiness or unjustified tardiness and has forced courts to interprete the phrase in their ruling.
The new labour law clarifies this phrase bay saying that unless the reason for being late is justified by the collective agreement, work rule or contract of employment, being late for duty eight times in six months period while being warned in writing of such a problem is a cause for termination without notice by the employer.
Moreover, the newly passed labour law also amended that absence from duty for a total five days in six months period while being warned in writing of such a problem is one cause for termination without notice by the employer.
The new law has also added a new right to the worker side to terminate his contract without notice when the worker has been a victim of sexual harassment or sexual violence by the employer or any of the managerial employees. This shows that the governments has taken the issue of work place sexual harassment very seriously.
3. Mode and execution of payment
There was a push to stipulate minimum wage in the new labour law. However rather than putting a minimum wage, the new law establishing a wage board where its powers will be determined by the Council of Ministers, The Wage Board which shall comprise representatives of the Government, employees and trade unions together with other stakeholders that will periodically revise minimum wages based on studies which take into account the country’s economic development, labour market and other considerations.
4. Annual Leave
The repealed law starts annual leave on 14 working days on the first year and increases by 1 day for each year of service whereas the new labour law has modified the annual leave by giving Sixteen (16) working days for the first year of service but additional one working day for every additional two years’ service.
5. Maternal Leave
One of the major improvements made by the new law is the issue of maternal leave. The repealed law stipulates that a woman worker shall be granted a period of 30 consecutive days of leave with pay preceding her presumed due date and a period of 60 consecutive days of leave after her due date. However, the new law grants a pregnant woman a period of 30 consecutive days of leave with pay of pre-natal leave and a period of 90 consecutive days of leave post- natal.
6. Private employment agencies
issues related with private employment agencies were covered by Proclamation 194/1998 and its implementing regulations. However the new labour law has repealed this law and included provisions to regulate private employment agencies regarding their conditions of service and licensing procedure by repealing all previous laws dealing with private employment agencies.