As Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day fall on weekends, their official national holidays will be celebrated on December 27, 28 and January 3 respectively — announces Ministry of Local Government.
In a statement issued Monday, December 20 by Secretary to the Ministry, James Chiusiwa, takes cognizance that Public Holidays Act Chapter 18:05 says: “Where in any year, a day specified in the Schedule, other than the Saturday following Good Friday, falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then the next proceeding day, not being itself a Sunday or public holiday shall in such year be a public holiday in all respects as it were a day specified on the Schedule, and the day specified in the Schedule shall, in such year, cease to be a public holiday”.
“In this case, this years Christmas and Boxing Holidays will be observed on Monday, 27th December and Tuesday, 27th December respectively whereas the New Year holiday will be observed on Monday, 3rd January.
“The Ministry, therefore, wishes the general public joyous 2021 Christmas and Boxing holidays as well as a prosperous 2022,” says the statement.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labour directed last week that setting CoVID-19 vaccination as a pre-condition for the award of end of the year bonuses as being done by some employers is not supported by the National Labour Laws and rules of natural justice.
Thus if employers who will ignore this advice from the Ministry “stand the risk of being prosecuted and this may result in serious damage to businesses, both financially and in terms of image”.
In a press statement by Secretary for Labour, Dickson Chunga said the Public Health Act (Public Health Corona Virus and COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Management) Rules, 2020 — in particular the Fourth Schedule (Workplace Guidelines) gives obligations to the employers to take precautionary measures, including risk assessment and mitigation to stop the spread of the corona virus at the workplace.
“The Ministry of Labour has, however, noted with concern that some employers require vaccination against COVID-19 as a pre-condition for the award of end of year bonuses to their employees.
“While the intention is good, namely to promote the uptake of the vaccine among employees which will make their workplaces safer against Covid-19, the action is, nevertheless, not supported by the National Labour Laws and rules of natural justice as elaborated below:
1. Bonus in employment is usually awarded on the basis of an employee’s performance, celebrating end of year season or profit sharing;
2. There is no scientific evidence showing a positive correlation between COVID-19 vaccination and an employee’s performance that would justify bringing the vaccination status into consideration in the award of bonuses to employees;
3. COVID-19 vaccination as a pre-condition for the award of bonuses has the effect of denying deserving employees their due bonus if they choose to exercise their right not to get vaccinated;
4. The requirement for COVID-19 vaccination has also the effect of compelling employees to take the vaccine in order to be considered for the bonus.
The Ministry maintains that this is contrary to Section 5 (1) of the Employment Act, as amended, “which prohibits discrimination of employees on the basis of their status, vaccination inclusive”.
“It is also contrary to the prevailing Government position that vaccination is voluntary which is why the Ministry of Health has repeatedly advised against compulsory vaccination
“Thus, on the basis of our National Labour Laws, making COVID-19 vaccination an eligibility criterion for bonus is an infringement on the rights of employees and in view of this, all employers are hereby advised against linking, in any way, COVID-19 vaccination status to the bonus payable to employees.
“Notwithstanding the foregoing, Government is advising employers to explore alternative ways of encouraging their employees to go for the COVID-19 vaccination while being mindful of employees’ Labour and human rights.
“In this regard, the input of employees is valuable, hence the need to engage them through social dialogue,” says the Ministry.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :