9 January 2013

Zambia: Good Employer-Employee Relationship Cardinal

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IN our column today, we look at the relationship between the employer and employee in a Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) set up.

It is said that no business setup can exist without any form of human personnel to assist business owners. No matter how skilled the business owners may be in the area of specialisation of their businesses started, the business owners cannot survive without the assistance of human personnel.

The business owner needs to be surrounded by all manner of human labour such as personal assistants, secretaries, accountants, general workers and so on.

Therefore, it goes without saying that, a business is not an island that exists by its own without any form of human labour assistance.

Because of this, it is actually very important that a business that relies upon any form of human labour to exist, formulate good working policies which suit the human personnel.

It is true that most of the SMEs have taken upon themselves to ensure that the businesses they formulate benefit them and that the small salaries they give to the workers become final in terms of what they can offer.

This status quo must be revisited by the business owners.

The employer and employee working relationship is a two-way path.

An employer expects a maximum output of service from the employee, while the employee expects best remuneration from the employer.

While this is true from the employer, the employee is left on a weaker side in terms of bargaining for better conditions of service.

A worker will put up a good performance at a place of work if the employer goes by the agreement with the worker whether on paper or verbal. Confrontation has been witnessed where the employer and the employee have met on the battle ground to square it out in a violate way.

The question is who is at fault, is it the employee or the employer?

It is actually very important that an employer takes necessary precautions whenever engaging human personnel to assist in carrying out business procedures.

The best plan is to embark on the employer and employee contract. A contract should be drawn whenever the employer is engaging any form of human labour to assist in business implementation of procedures. A contract will actually act as a guide for both the employer and employee.

It is going to be treated as the roadmap.

Any grievances raised either by the employer or the employee will be referred to the contract and where there are differences in interpretation between, the Government through the Labour Office can be called upon to arbitrate.

I witnessed an incidence where I was working, the employee ran to the labour office and when we took our own drawn condition of service, the labour office interpreted contrary to what we were anticipating and it was ruled favour of the employee.

When a contract is drawn, a way forward is always sought from the contract and the solution is found when the contract is interpreted by the independent judge in case of the misunderstanding.

A contract when signed by the employer and the employee usually comes to the rescue of the weaker side in this case the employee.

That is why it is very important for employer to interpret very carefully the contract to the employee who is being contracted to understand the meaning of the contract in the first place, because this will save the employer and the employee of the confrontation that we always see.

Some of the features on the contract will be as follows; duties, accommodation, leave days, gross pay, statutory deductions, disciplinary code, working hours and remuneration etc.

And where the employer employs human personnel without any form of a contract or any written mutual agreement and later on a conflict ensues as a result of work procedures, then the Government through the Labour Office will come in to arbitrate using their minimum standard and general conditions of service.

In this case either party can rush to the Labour Office to seek the redress over any issue at hand.

The labour laws, on minimum conditions of service which are applied in situations where the employer does not stipulate the conditions of service by drawing the contract of service for workers, are regulated by the Statutory Instrument Number 57 of 2006 General Order.

The employer who has that tendency of hiring and firing workers at will, creates a negative record on a business.

And when word goes around about that habit, then it becomes very difficult to attract good workers.

Good workers are very important to a business sometimes are ranked near to fixed assets because of their immense contribution to a business.

That is why employers should hold their fire when it comes to release important workers because other employees carry with them a huge amount of goodwill on their shoulders.

Have you not witnessed a good employee resigning with a batch of fellow employees and at the same time sweeping away the customers?

Cultivating good working policies in a business creates confidence into the mind of workers and the sense of belonging is very much attached to the business.

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