October 15, 2004

New labour bill passed

After conflicts between the National Assembly and the National Council since the bill had been first introduced in February, the long-awaited new labour law has finally been passed by the National Assembly. Labour Minister Marlene Mungunda introduced her final amendments to the bill - which included removing the feeding, watering and milking of animals from a list determining what classifies "urgent work". Furthermore, an employee will now be entitled to 24 consecutive working days' leave on full basic wage per year. The House also agreed to include a provision on compassionate leave in the new law, giving employees five days' paid leave to tend to the death or serious illness of an immediate family member. Compassionate leave does not form part of annual, sick or maternity leave.
Following public hearings by the National Council, one of the most notable changes to the new law is that it outlaws discrimination on the basis of a person's HIV-AIDS status. The new law, which will replace the current Labour Act of 1992, will also revamp the country's dispute resolution system. Conciliation and arbitration will be the preferred resolution mechanism before disputes head to the courts. The bill will now be passed on to President Sam Nujoma to be enacted into law. (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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