Employment in Zambia
The mission of this Ministry is to give a new vision of the relationships between employers and workers and to build a social security system. It comprises various departments, such as the Productivity Development Department or the Occupational Health and Safety Department. Employment Services are also under its authority.
The Ministry operates labour inspections through its Department of Labour. Labour Officers (under the responsibility of the Principal Labour Officer based in Lusaka) are required to visit establishments to examine wages and other conditions of employment to ensure that employers comply with the law. Specifically, according to s. 6 of the Employment Act, 1965, Labour Officers have the following powers:
1. to enter freely at any reasonable time, whether by day or by night, any workplace or conveyance where they may have reasonable cause to believe persons are being employed and to inspect such workplace or conveyance;
2. to enter by day any premises in order to carry out any examination, test or inquiry to determine compliance with the provisions of the Act; and,
3. Labour Officers may interrogate any employer or employee, require the production for examination of any document, and enforce the posting of notices as may be prescribed.
Concretely, in 1990, 97 factory and construction sites were visited (see Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Department of Labour, Annual Report for the Year 1990, p. 35), while in 1996, there were more than 600 visits.
The following kinds of disputes may also be referred to a Labour Officer:
1. whenever an employer or employee neglects or refuses to comply with the terms of any contract of service; or,
2. whenever any question, difference or dispute arises as to the rights or liabilities of any party to such contract; or,
3. any misconduct, neglect or ill-treatment of any such party.
The party aggrieved may report the matter to a Labour Officer who must take steps to effect a settlement between the parties (s. 64 of the Employment Act, 1965). If the Labour Officer considers that a breach of the Act has been disclosed, he/she may refer the matter to the High Court or a subordinate court (s. 65).
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is also in charge of the Zambian National Provident Fund, which has been being transformed into a National Pension Scheme. Similarly, the National Social Safety Net Co-ordinating Committee operates under the authority of the Ministry. The Committee has been dealing with labour market related interventions including the Future Search Programme of the Public Service Management Division; the Resettlement Programme in the Office of the Vice-President; the Public Welfare Assistance Programme of the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services; the Small Business Development Programme of the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry.