Major changes in the new labour law

Rwandan Government elaborated the National Employment Policy of December 2007. The National Employment Policy is in line with major principles and guidelines established by the Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Rwanda has subscribed which provides that “everyone shall have the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

To put into action the National Employment Policy, the Government of Rwanda elaborated the Law no 13/ 2009 of 27/05/2009 regulating labour in Rwanda. This labour law has created the desirability of enhancing productivity while at the same time creating a smooth and harmonious relationship between employees and employers.

The implementation of the Law no 13/ 2009 of 27/05/2009 regulating labour in Rwanda revealed some challenges and gaps and hence needed to be reformed to respond to employee and employer’s needs.

In general, the labour law of 2009 was reformed for the following reasons:

ü  Improve the effectiveness of the law in terms of applicability and enforcement mechanisms;

ü  Harmonization of Labour laws and ratified ILO conventions by Rwanda;

ü  Filling gaps that are in Law No 13/2009 of 27/05/2009 Regulating Labour in Rwanda and its implementing in Orders;

ü  Ensure that the law can effectively address the changing forms of employment relationships;

ü  Compliance with the EAC Common Market Protocol by establishing private employment agencies and labour export;

ü  Meet the expectations of both employers and employees while considering the socio-economic development of the country and the region as a whole.

 

What’s new in the law?

 

The new Law N° 66/2018 of 30/08/2018 regulating Labour in Rwanda that repealed the Law N° 13/2009 of 27/05/2009 regulating Labour in Rwanda has brought some of the following modifications:

 

1. Scope (Art.2)

 The new Law N° 66/2018 of 30/08/2018 regulating Labour in Rwanda applies to employment relations based on an employment contract between an employee and an employer in the private sector.

 It applies also to contractual staff in Public Sector unless otherwise provided by the law establishing the general statutes for public service.

 The repealed law was applied to informal sector only for issues relating to social security, trade union organizations and health and safety at workplace.

 However, this new law regulating labour in Rwanda has extended its scope to informal sector on other aspects such as the minimum wage in categories of occupations which shall be determined by an Order of the Minister in charge of labour; the right to leave and protection against workplace discrimination.

 

 2. Minimum age for admission to employment (Art.5)

 In this new law, the Minimum age for admission to employment remains at sixteen (16) years as it was in  the repealed law. But this new law provides an exception where “a child aged between thirteen (13) and fifteen (15) years is allowed to perform only light works in the context of apprenticeship.” An Order of the Minister in charge of labour shall establish the list of light works for the child provided for a child between 13-15 years old. 

 

Note that Light work in this new law is defined as: “a work which cannot have a detrimental effect on child’s health, child development and child’s education or other aspects of child’s life interest.” (Art.3 paragraph 26).

 3. Conclusion of Employment contract (art. 11) 

 This new law provides that an employment can be for a fixed term or indefinite and it can be written or unwritten as it was in the repealed law.

 In the repealed law, an unwritten contract was not exceeding six consecutives (6) months.

 But in this new law, the duration of unwritten employment contract cannot exceed ninety (90) consecutive days.

 4. Moving an employee to another position (art.17)

 This new law provides that “an employer, due to the enterprise’s interests, can transfer an employee to a position different from the one he or she applied for but which is at the same level as that one he or she applied for without reducing his or her salary and other benefits.  And an employer cannot transfer an employee to another level of employment which can result in reducing his/her level and salary without the employee’s consent”.

 5.Occupational accident or disease (Art. 19)

 For the purpose of compensating employees who had occupational accident or disease while they were not insured in social security, the new law provides that “an employee having an occupational accident or disease while the employer has not contributed for him or her in a social security body in Rwanda, receives from the employer compensation equivalent to the social benefits he or she would have received from a social security body in Rwanda if the employer had contributed for him/her, including medical and related expenses. Again, an employee cannot be dismissed as a result of occupational accident unless a recognized doctor declares him/her unfit to resume service in the employment he/she held prior to the accident.

 6. Suspension of employment contract due to administrative investigation by an employer (art. 20)

 This new law provides that “an employer can suspend an employee in writing (for administrative investigation) in a period not exceeding thirty (30) days without payment but the employee’s salary is calculated and retained. If, after the investigation, the employee’s innocence is proven, the employer reinstates the employee and pays him/her all his/her salary that was retained for him/her.

 7. Right to be reinstated in employment after being dismissed for economic or technical reasons (Art. 22)

 This article provides that an employee dismissed for economic or technical reasons and whose dismissal does not last more than six (6) months is entitled to be reinstated in employment without competition when he or she meets the profile required for the position to which the employer seeks to fill. 

 8. Compensation notice (Art. 25)

 This articles provides that “any contract termination without notice or without having fully observed the notice period results in the party responsible for termination paying the other party the damages which cannot go below his/her three (3) month salary, nor exceed his/her six (6) month salary.  However, if the employee has more than ten (10) years of experience with the same employer, damages cannot exceed his/her nine (9)-month net salary.

 In the repealed law, it was provided that a party wishing to terminate a contract without giving or respecting the period of notice compels the responsible party to pay the other party an allowance corresponding to the salary and other benefits from which the worker would have benefited during the notice period that was not been effectively respected.

 Under this new law, any contract termination without notice or without having fully observed the notice period results in the party responsible for termination paying the other party the compensation provided for by this Law.

 9. Termination of employment contract for gross misconduct (Art. 26)

 This article provides that an employer terminates an employment contract without notice in case of employee’s gross misconduct. If an employment contract is terminated for gross misconduct, the employer must notify the employee within forty-eight (48) hours of the occurrence of evidence of the gross misconduct specifying the grounds for termination. 

 The repealed law was not specifying when the period of forty-eight (48) hours starts to run and the gross misconduct was appreciated by the court. But now, an Order of the Minister in charge of labour shall establish the list of gross misconduct.

 10. Termination of employment contract (Art. 27 & 28)

 These articles provide that an indefinite term employment contract and a fixed term contract are terminated by consent of parties or for legitimate reasons, or by the end of the contract period for a fixed term contract.

 11. Damages for termination of employment contract (Art. 30)

 This article provides that “unlawful termination of employment contract gives rise to the payment of damages. Damages paid to the employee victim of unfair dismissal cannot go below his/her three (3) month salary, nor exceed his/her six (6) month salary. However, if the employee has more than ten (10) years of experience with the same employer, damages cannot exceed his/her nine (9)-month net salary.

 In the repealed law, it was provided that an unlawful termination of a fixed term contract before its expiration period leads to the payment of salaries of the remaining period and dismissal compensation for open ended contract.  But in this new law, these were removed and the new law provides that for any termination of an employment contract (indefinite and fixed-term), the party who is not satisfied by the decision of termination requests for damages provided in this article. 

 12. Terminal benefits (Art. 31)

 In the repealed law (art. 35), it was provided that the dismissal or an employment contract termination for a worker who has completed a period of at least twelve (12) consecutive months of work entails the payment of dismissal benefits.

 However, in this new law, the terminal benefits are provided only for employees whose contracts are terminated due to economic reasons, technological transfer or sickness and for an employee having served for at least twelve (12) consecutive months. 

 Note that terminal benefits have been increased as follows compared to dismissal compensations that were provided in the repealed law:

 ü  two (2) times the average monthly salary for the employee having less than five (5) years of service with the same enterprise;

 ü  three (3) times the average monthly salary for the employee having between five (5) and ten (10) years of service with the same enterprise;

ü  four (4) times the average monthly salary for the employee having between ten (10) and fifteen (15) years of service with the same enterprise;

 ü  five (5) times the average monthly salary for the employee having between fifteen (15) and twenty (20) years of service with the same enterprise;

 ü  six (6) times the average monthly salary for the employee having between twenty (20) and twenty five (25) years of service with the same enterprise;

 ü  seven (7) times the average monthly salary for the employee having over twenty-five (25) years of service with the same enterprise. 

 13. Disciplinary sanctions (Art. 42)

 Compared to the repealed law which was not providing disciplinary sanctions that may be taken by employers for disciplinary faults, this new law provides that “Subject to the favourable provisions of collective conventions, rules of procedure or employment contract and depending on the severity of the misconduct, the disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed on the employee are the following:

 a) Oral warning;

b) Written reprimand;

c) Temporary suspension not exceeding eight (8) working days without pay;

d) Dismissal.

 14. Private employment agencies (Art. 115)

 This new law provides how Private employment Agencies in Rwanda are established and their functioning.

 A Private employment agency is a natural or non-government legal person, which provides one or more of the following labour market services:

 a.    matching offers and applications for employment, without becoming a party to the human resource management;

 b.    looking for job seekers with a view of making them available to an employer and continuing to assign then tasks and supervise them;

c.     providing advice on labour-related matters;

d.    training of jobseekers;

e.    providing job-related information;

f.     other services relating to job seeking which can be approved by the Minister in charge of labour, after consulting employees’ organisations and employers’ organisations.

 The new law provides that a person wishing to establish a private employment agency applies for an authorisation granted by the Minister in charge of labour. An Order of the Minister in charge of labour determines modalities for establishment of private employment agencies and their functioning.

 15. Declaration of an enterprise and employees (Art. 116)

 This law provides that an employer who opens an enterprise declares it in writing to the labour inspectorate of his/her area, provides an initial declaration of information relating to the situation of his/her employees within one (1) month from commencement of the enterprise and shall notify the closure or relocation of the enterprise fifteen (15) days before closing business or relocating enterprise.

 16. Offences and their penalties (art. 117 and 119)

 This new Law provides penalties for employers or enterprises who commit offences of employing the children in works that are prohibited for a child in this law like (work which are physically harmful to the child; work underground, under water, at dangerous heights or in confined spaces), and for an employer or employee who causes to another person an occupational accident or diseases, in the following manner: 

 a)   An employer who personally subjects a child to any of the prohibited forms of work commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than two (2) years and not more than five (5) years and a fine of not less than five hundred thousand Rwandan francs (FRW 500,000) and not more than five million Rwandan francs (FRW 5,000,000) or one of these penalties.

 b)   If an employer or an employee who, through clumsiness, carelessness, inattention, negligence, failure to observe the rules or any other lack of precaution, causes danger commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than six (6) months and not more than two (2) years and a fine of not less than five hundred thousand Rwandan francs (FRW 500,000) and not more than two million Rwandan francs (FRW 2,000,000) or one of these penalties.

 17. Administrative Sanctions

 a)   Obstructing the functioning of the labour inspectorate (Art. 120)

 This new law provides that an employer who refuses to allow a labour inspector to enter an enterprise, refuses to provide information with him or her, fails to report to him/her summon or implement recommendations from a labour inspector, commits an administrative misconduct. He/she is liable to an administrative fine of not less than one hundred thousand Rwandan francs (FRW 100,000) and not more than two million Rwandan francs (FRW 2,000,000).

 The Modalities for implementing sanctions referred to under Paragraph One of this Article are determined by an Order of the Minister in charge of labour.

 b)   Temporary closure of an enterprise  (Art. 121)

This new law provides also that for the purpose of preserving national interests, the Minister in charge of labour can decide a temporary closure of an enterprise.

 18. Payment of salaries for employees executing public or private tenders (Art. 122)

 For the purpose of ensuring the payment of salaries of employees working in public or private tenders, this law provides that “A successful bidder who sub-contracts a part of the tender to a third party is responsible for payments of employees’ salaries in case the sub-contractor has not paid employees’ salaries”.

A successful bidder who is awarded a tender is not entitled to payments without showing to the procuring entity the proof that he/she has paid the debt related to salaries of employees employed. 

 In case a successful bidder fails to pay the employees’ salaries, the procuring entity retains the amount equivalent to employees’ salaries, until the successful bidder proves that he/she has paid the employees.

 However, if the payment is not effected by the successful bidder in a period of forty five (45) days, the procuring entity pays the concerned employees the salaries equivalent to the amount retained.

 19. On-going employment contracts at the time of commencement of this Law (Art. 123)

 This law provides that “Employment contracts that were concluded before commencement of this Law remain valid.  However, any clause of an employment contract contrary to this Law must be in conformity with this Law within twelve (12) months from the commencement of this Law.

 

maurice munyentwali

Legal Awareness Specialist

Maurice.munyentwali@rlrc.gov.rw