The relationship between an employer and his/her employee is contractual in nature and regulated by the terms and conditions of the contract of employment. However even though Uganda upholds the principle of the right to contract and will enforce any contract, it is important to note that every employment contract must meet the legal requirements. Should the employment agreement be found to be in breach of the law or its terms less favourable than those provided by the law, the legal position will prevail over it.
In Uganda, the parent law for employment law (also known as labour law) is the Constitution of Uganda of 1995, as amended. The Constitution lays the ground from which the employment laws build. The Constitutions sets out certain rights of employees including among others;-
- The right of workers to organize in trade unions and other labour organisations;
- The right of persons to work under satisfactory, safe and healthy conditions.
- equal pay for equal work without discrimination
- A requirement for rest and reasonable working hours with periods of the holiday with pay as well as remuneration for public holidays.
- The right of everting woman worker to be accorded protection by his employer during pregnancy and after birth.
Other labour laws in Uganda are contained in the Employment Act, 2006, The Labour Unions Act, 2006, Workers Compensation Act, Cap 225, The Occupational Safety and Health Act, 2006, The Minimum Wages Advisory Board and Wages Council Act, Cap 221, The Labour Disputes (Arbitration and Settlement) Act, 2006, The National Social Security Fund Act, Cap 222, The Pensions Act, Cap 286 and in common law and equity.
Therefore if you are an employer in Uganda, always ensure that the terms and conditions of your employment contracts are complaints with the labour laws of Uganda or you may be held liable. Note that failure to have an appointment letter or written contract does not render the contract of employment unenforceable. Illegal contracts usually include contracts designed to defraud the state by not paying income tax, failure to obtain a valid work permit, contracts for illegal or immoral acts e.g. prostitution and drug peddling.