Gov’t wants bill fast tracked through house
The long awaited Labour Bill which was passed by the Chamber of Deputies early May, has now reached the upper chamber of Parliament, the Senate, for further discussion ahead of its passing and publishing in the National Gazette.
Defending the bill before members of the Senate, the Minister of Labour and Public Services, Anastase Murekezi, said that the Government is focussed on the passing of the labour code in a bid to streamline the workforce and other vital areas in the economy, such as business.
Murekezi urged the house to act fast as the law is long overdue.
“The Government perceives this law if passed, as one that will increase the productivity of people since working hours will be increased to 45 a week instead of 40 while we also intend to see the cost of doing business reduced since issues of workers insurance are all catered for in the new bill, the reason we want it passed and published in 2 months time,” Murekezi urged Senators.
The session chaired by the President of the Senate Vincent Biruta also had senators give their views and ideas on several articles addressing issues of maternity leave, internship as well as jobs in the informal sector.
Some of the contentious issues raised by the senator including the law not addressing the needs of employees in the informal sector especially jobs in the rural areas, while reforms made don’t add value to some jobs because of their nature.
Senators also argued that the 45 working hours a week will disorganise jobs where people work in shifts such as factories which operate on a 24 hour basis.
Murekezi however told the lawmakers that private employers have room to negotiate working hours and determine shifts, adding that the working hours directly affect employees in the public service while those in the private sector have room for negotiations.
He further said that on the issue of Meternity leave, Murekezi said that there are clear specifications of how mothers earn their incomes while they are having their maternity leave.
Mothers are entitled to 12 consecutive weeks of maternity leave but they can start the leave two weeks before giving birth.
He also added that a mother who returns to work immediately after the first six weeks of her leave is entitled to two hour off-duty to breast feed for a period of six months after giving birth.
“While we are not abusing the rights of mothers and children, the Government is also urging people to take advantage of daycares and pre-schools where children can be put for further care at an early age just in case the mother wants to resume work. This is how it is done in more advanced economies” Murekezi said.
The bill also stipulates that the minimum wage will be determined by a ministerial decree that sets the rates of wages and salaries after a mutual agreement between concerned parties.
The Bill aims at facilitating investment in Rwanda and enhancing job creation in consideration of the modern economic times, especially in issues related to; easing employment contracts, reducing investment costs, establishing a limited number of days of annual leave, permitting an employee to enter into contracts with different employers and easing issues relating to laying off employees in case of economic difficulties among others.
Senators also suggested that a clause be added in the law that will allow those on internship to attain Certificates of Practice which they would use on their CV’s, as well as a provision to entitle interns to a certain allowance during internship, on agreement with the employer.
Members of the Public Service Committee in the Senate will continue deliberating on the law today.