As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc in the world, one of the biggest challenges that businesses have faced has been how to manage their employees. Like other countries around the globe, Tanzania’s employment and labor laws were not COVID-19 friendly and had to be adjusted in response to the global pandemic. In April 2020, the Association of Tanzanian Employers (ATE) came out with some measures that could be taken by employers in view of the virus.
Association of Tanzanian Employers (ATE) Circular
On 18th March 2020, a circular was issued by ATE with the following requirements
- It stated that all employers should conduct meetings with employees and trade unions in the workplace premises to discuss unpaid leave and other working arrangements that could be adopted during this time. This included leave arrangements, including annual leave, so there could be less strain on the business, allowing the employers more time to manage their financial situation till the conditions improved.
- Task contracts, or specific-term contracts, should be issued for jobs that are of a task-oriented nature and do not require too much time. In Tanzania, fixed-term contracts are for a duration of 12-months, while specific task contracts can be for a shorter period depending on the work required.
- Employers are encouraged to allow their employees to work from home if their job does not require them to be physically present at the workplace.
- Employers must review and update workplace policies and procedures in case someone is diagnosed with coronavirus. Sick leaves and absence policies must be reviewed. According to section 32 of the Employment and Labor Relations Act, 2004 (ELRA), if an employee is sick, a medical certificate from a medical practitioner must be submitted. However, the Act states that during self-isolation, obtaining a medical certificate from a practitioner might be difficult. In case an employee needs to be self-isolated or contracts the virus, unpaid leave should be taken, or terms of working from home should be discussed.
Under Tanzania’s labor laws, if an employee diagnosed with COVID-19 is allowed a sick leave of 126 days in a 36-month cycle. During the sick leave, the employee will be paid in full for the first 63 days. During the next 63 days, the employee will be paid in half, according to section 32 of the ELRA. If the employee does not produce a medical certificate signed by a registered medical practitioner, the employer is under no obligation to pay him. Moreover, if the employee is going to be paid sick leave under any law, fund, or collective agreement, the employer need not pay any additional amount. Patients identified with COVID-19 will be quarantined in government health centers. Once this happens, the employee must keep their employer updated about their health status in a reasonable manner.
Termination of Employment Contracts
If working arrangements, including unpaid leave, salary reduction, and working from home, are not working, employers may terminate an employment agreement in an orderly fashion. The employment must be terminated according to operational requirements, despite the virus. The employer must follow the retrenchment procedure stated by ELRA and other labor legislations in Tanzania or face penalties.
To learn more about employment in Tanzania, click here