Laws in Tanzania govern overall conducts and relationships between the employer and employees. In February 2017, the government enacted new labour regulations to govern, among others, employment standards. The regulations have been gazetted as Government Notice No. 47 of 2017 – Employment and Labour Relations (General) Regulations. These regulations should be read together with other labour laws.
The regulations introduced new employment standards, a few of which are highlighted below.
Contracts with employees for a specific period of time for professionals and managerial cadre must now be for a period of not less than 12 months whereas previously these did not have a prescribed period.
It has been the law that an employer must not require or permit an employee to work during any period of annual leave. The new regulations appear to contradict the position of the principal law. They provide that an employer must ensure that no employee is continuously working in any leave cycle without applying for annual leave, notwithstanding an agreement between the employer and employee to work for payment in lieu of annual leave. The new regulations seem to allow an employee to work during his or her annual leave provided that he or she has applied for the leave. Although this interpretation is plausible, the laws of interpretation make it very clear that where the principal act conflicts with any subsidiary legislation, as in this case, it is the principal act that must prevail. As such, working during annual leave remains prohibited with or without an application for leave by an employee.
Also, it should be noted that with regards to female employees' right to breastfeed their children, they are now allowed to leave the office for a maximum of two hours at their convenience during working hours to breastfeed their children. This right extends consecutively for a period of six months after maternity leave. The previous labour law did not provide a period for which new mothers may go and breastfeed, however, the two hours were granted. This provision now places uniformity to all employers which previously would have varied.
However, it should not be forgotten that, where an employee's contract of employment is terminated at a place other than where the employee was recruited, the employer must pay the employee an allowance for transportation to the place of recruitment, an allowance which must be equal to at least a bus fare to the bus station nearest to the place of recruitment. An employee must also be paid daily subsistence expenses during the period between the day of termination of the contract and the date of transporting the employee and his or her family to the place of recruitment. These expenses are quantified to the daily basic wage of the employee or as may, from time to time, be determined by the relevant wage board.
Reviewed by Tabitha Maro, a partner at ENSafrica in Tanzania.
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