Government has published the new Employment Code Act of 2019 to regulate the employment of persons and highlighting the possible penalties for employers that defy the outlined regulations in the new Act.
The Act, which was officially signed into law on April 12, 2019, prohibits the casualization of employees at an undertaking, explaining that an employer who engages in casualization would be liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding four hundred thousand penalty units.
The Act further states that, in addition to the fine of a hundred thousand plus penalty units, an employer engaging in casualization shall also pay an employee any accrued benefits attaching to the employment status of the employee.
And the Act also provides for the regulation of the employment of children and young persons and the subjecting of people to perform forced labour, among other offenses.
“An employer shall not engage in casualization. An employer, who contravenes subsection (1), commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding four hundred thousand penalty units. In addition to the penalty under subsection (2), an employer shall pay an employee any accrued benefits attaching to the employment status of the employee as determined by an authorized officer. An authorised officer shall, in determining the employment status of, and accrued benefits due to, an employee under subsection (3), consider the following: the number of hours worked each week by that employee; whether a roster system is published in advance; whether the employment pattern is regular; whether a mutual expectation of continuity of employment exists; whether the employer requires notice before that employee is absent or on leave; whether the employee has a reasonable expectation that work will be available; whether that employee works according to consistent starting and finishing times; and any other relevant facts necessary to determine the status of the employment relationship,” the Act reads.
“Where an employer fails to pay the accrued benefits due to an employee as determined by the authorised officer, the accrued benefits shall be a debt due to the employee and shall summarily be recoverable as a civil debt. In this section ‘casualization’ means an employment practice where an employer, without permissible reason, engages or re-engages an employee on a temporary or fixed basis, to perform work, which is permanent in nature — (a) that results, without justifiable reason, in the different treatment of an employee compared to a full-time or other category of employee of the employer; or (b), which has the effect of enabling the employer to avoid any obligations, or depriving an employee of any rights under this Act; ‘permanent in nature’ means — (a) work that is not short-term, has regular or systematic hours of work, and has an expectation of continuing; or (b) a position in an undertaking that is necessary for the continued or sustainable operation of the undertaking or is core to the objectives of the undertaking.”
And the new law also outlined penalties on offenders found guilty of perpetuating forced labour.
“A person shall not engage or subject another person to perform forced labour. A person who contravenes subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding two hundred thousand penalty units or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both,” read the Act.