According to legislative watchdog, Veritas, Mugabe signed the Labour Amendment Bill into law less than a week after it was stampeded through Parliament.
The legal experts said the major changes on the Labour Law were made to Section 12 of the original Act, and in the process,removed the common law position that allowed the termination of contracts on three months’ notice.
The hasty changes to the country’s labour law were triggered by a July 17 Supreme Court judgment giving employers
the same rights as workers in the cancellation of contracts.
Approximately 25 000 people lost their jobs in the past 40 days alone as employers took advantage of the ruling to streamline their workforce in the midst of a debilitating economic crisis.
While employers have angrily reacted to the retrospective clause, Mugabe yesterday reportedly assented to it, setting the stage for potential bruising court fights.
Part 18 of the new law’s Section 12 on transitional provision reads: “Section 12 of the Labour Act [Chapter 28:01] as amended by this Act applies to every employee whose services were terminated on three months’ notice on or after the 17th July, 2015”.
A copy of the new law published on the Veritas website yesterday, reads: “12 (b) (4a) No employer shall terminate a contract of employment on notice unless — ( a) the termination is in terms of an employment code or, in the absence of an employment code, in terms of the model code made under Section 101 (9); or “(b) The employer and employee mutually agree in writing to the termination of the contract; or (c) the employee was engaged for a period of fixed duration or for the performance of some specific service; or (d) pursuant to retrenchment, in accordance with Section 12C.”
In (4b) it reads: “Where an employee is given notice of termination of contract in terms of subsection (4a) and such employee is employed under the terms of a contract without limitation of time, the provisions of section l2C shall apply with regard to compensation for loss of employment.”
In reaction to the Supreme Court judgment and the subsequent job cuts,Mugabe hastily recalled Parliament to enable MPs to scrutinise the amendments amid howls of disapproval from the opposition legislators who wanted more changes.
While the opposition wanted a package of one month’s salary for every year served plus an additional three months lumpsum as well as a relocation allowance of one month’s pay, the new Act provides for only two weeks’ pay for every year served as a minimum package.