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Zambia
 


Source and scope of regulations - 2012    

References
  • The Employment Act [EA], Chapter 268, (Act No. 57 of 1965, as last amended by Act No. 15 of 1997)
    Date: 1997 (view in NATLEX »)
  • Industrial and Labour Relations Act, [ILRA] 1993 (No. 27 of 1993), as amended by the Industrial and Labour Relations (Amendment) Act, 1997 (No. 30 of 1997)
    Date: 18 Dec 1997 (view in NATLEX »)
  • Industrial and Labour Relations (Amendment) Act, 2008 (No. 8 of 2008)
    Date: 24 Sep 2008 (view in NATLEX »)
  • Minimum Wages and Conditions of Employment Act, Cap. 276 [MWCEA], No. 25 of 1982, as amended by Act No. 13 of 1994
    Date: 1994; view website » (view in NATLEX »)
  • Minimum Wages and Conditions of Employment (General) Order [MWCEGO], 2006 (S.I. No. 57 of 2006)
    Date: 30 May 2006 (view in NATLEX »)
  • Minimum Wages and Conditions of Employment (Shop Workers) Order [MWCESO], 2006 (S.I. No. 56 of 2006)
    Date: 30 May 2006 (view in NATLEX »)
Scope
Size of enterprises excluded (≤): none
Workers' categories excluded: domestic workers; police; army; judiciary; managerial / executive positions; prison personnel; state security corps
Remarks:
  • 1)The EA does not apply in relation to:
    (i) persons in the Defence Force (other than locally engaged civilian employees);
    (ii) members of the Zambia Police Force;
    (iii) members of the Zambia Prison Service.
    (see sec. 2(1) EA)
    Under sec. 2(2) of the EA, the Minister of Labour has power to exempt or exclude certain persons or categories of persons from the ambit of the legislation, but to date no such exemptions have been made.
    Casual employees and apprentices are not included within the meaning of "employee" under the EA. Casual employees are those who are paid at the end of each day and who are hired for a period of not more than 6 months (sec. 3 EA).
    - In addition, provisions concerning termination of an oral contract for reason of redundancy do not apply to a bankrupt employer, casual employees, employees on probation, or an employee who was offered alternative employment and unreasonably refused the offer (sec 26B(4) EA).

    2) The ILRA does not apply to:
    (a) the Zambia Defence Force;
    (b) the Zambia Police Force;
    (c) the Zambia Prison Service;
    (d) the Zambia Security Intelligence Service; and
    (e) judges, registrars of the court, magistrates and local court justices. (sec. 2 ILRA)

    3) The Minimum Wages and Conditions of Employment (General) Order 2006 [MWCEGO] which contains provisions on maternity leave, redundancy benefits and summary dismissals does not apply to employees
    - of the Republic of Zambia;
    - of a District, Municipal and City Councils;
    - engaged in domestic service;
    - in occupation where wages and conditions of employment are governed by collective agreements or "specific employment contracts which shall be attested by a proper officer";
    - in management positions.


Reforms under process
Reform of the Employment Act in progress


Types of employment contracts - 2012    

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Maximum probationary (trial) period: no limitation

Remarks:
  • No statutory provisions on the probationary period.

Fixed term contract (FTC):
  • FTC regulated: No
  • Valid reasons for FTC use: no limitation
    Remarks:
    • The EA does not distinguish between fixed-term and permanent contracts. There are therefore no such rules as those regarding the reasons for resorting to FTC.
      A distinction is made between oral contracts and written contracts, the former being the standard form of contract and the most commonly used in practice (Sec. 17 EA stipulates that all contracts of service other than contracts which are required by this Act or any other law to be made in writing, may be made orally)
      Contracts required to be in writing under Part V, sec. 28(1) EA, are those which are made for a fixed period of service exceeding six months; contracts stipulating conditions of employment which differ materially from those customary in the district of employment for similar work; contracts of foreign service; and contracts to be performed personally in relation to some specific work (a fixed task) which could not reasonably be expected to be completed within six months.
  • Maximum number of successive FTCs: no limitation
    Remarks:
    • The EA does not distinguish between fixed-term and permanent contracts. There are therefore no such rules as those regarding the maximum number and/or duration of a fixed-term contract.

      The only rule regarding the renewal of a contract is sec. 19 EA which relates to the renewal of an oral contract not exceeding 1 month:
      "Each party to an oral contract for a period not exceeding one month shall, on the termination of such contract, be conclusively presumed to have entered into a new oral contract for a further period of the same duration and subject to the same terms and conditions as those of the contract then terminated unless-
      (a) notice to terminate the employment under section twenty has been given by either party and the period of notice has expired; or
      (b) the contract has been terminated by payment in lieu of notice; or
      (c) the contract has been summarily terminated by either party for lawful cause; or
      (d) the contract has been otherwise lawfully terminated under the provisions of this Act:
      Provided that nothing in this section shall apply to-
      (i) contracts expressed to be terminable without notice or to which this section does not apply;
      (ii) contracts specifically expressed to be for one period of fixed duration and not to be renewable;
      (iii) daily contracts where the wages are paid daily."

      No statutory provision regulating renewals of written contracts.

  • Maximum cumulative duration of successive FTCs: no limitation

Notes / Remarks
The EA does not establish a distinction between contracts according to their duration (i.e fixed term contract v. contract of indefinite duration). The distinction under Zambian employment law is between oral contracts of employment and contracts which are required by law to be written, which are not in practice the usual form of employment contract in Zambia. This dichotomy is reflected in the provisions regulating termination of employment.
Contracts required to be in writing under sec. 28(1) EA, are those which are made for a period of service exceeding six months; contracts of foreign service; and contracts to be performed personally in relation to some specific work (a fixed task) which could not reasonably be expected to be completed within six months.

Substantive requirements for dismissals (justified and prohibited grounds) - 2012    

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Obligation to provide reasons to the employee: No
Remarks:
  • There is no general obligation to inform the employee of the reasons of his or her dismissal.
    Such obligation only exists for terminations on grounds related to the conduct or performance of the employee. Sec. 26A requires the employer who intends to dismiss the employee on such grounds to afford him or her an opportunity to be heard on the charges laid against him or her.


Valid grounds (justified dismissal): none
Remarks:
  • - Pursuant to sec. 20(1), "either party to an oral contract may terminate the employment on the expiration of notice given to the other party of his intention to do so". Therefore, as a general rule, no grounds are required for terminating an oral contract of employment with notice.
    However, the EA provides for specific procedural requirements for summary dismissals (sec. 25 EA, sec. 12 MWCEGO and MWCESO - see below procedural requirements for individual dismissals) and for any termination of an oral contract on the grounds related to the conduct or performance of an employee (sec. 26A EA).
    In addition, there is a specific regime for terminations by redundancy (see sec. 26B EA).

    - Termination of written contracts is regulated by sec. 36 EA which reads as follows: "(1) A written contract of service shall be terminated
    (a) by the expiry of the term for which it is expressed to be made; or
    (b) by the death of the employee before such expiry; or
    (c) in any other manner in which a contract of service may be lawfully terminated or deemed to be terminated whether under the provisions of this Act or otherwise.
    (2) Where owing to sickness or accident an employee is unable to fulfill a written contract of service, the contract may be terminated on the report of a registered medical practitioner."
    No further information is given as to termination of a written contract.


Prohibited grounds: marital status; pregnancy; maternity leave; filing a complaint against the employer; temporary work injury or illness; race; sex; religion; political opinion; social origin; trade union membership and activities; ethnic origin
Remarks:
  • * Sec. 108 ILRA: The prohibited grounds for dismissal listed are race, sex, marital status, religion, political opinion or affiliation, tribal extraction or status of the employee.
    * On trade union activities and membership, and filing a complaint against the employer, see sec. 5 ILRA.
    * Dismissal based on pregnancy or maternity leave is prohibited in sec. 15B EA and clause 7(4) of both MWCEGO and MWCESO.
    * On temporary work injury or sickness, see sec. 54(1) LC.


Workers enjoying special protection: pregnant women and/or women on maternity leave; workers on temporary leave following an occupational disease or a work injury
Remarks:
  • - The EA also provides for statutory sick leave with full pay and employment cannot be terminated on this ground during this leave period (sec. 54).
    - Sec. 15B EA prohibits termination of employment for reasons connected with pregnancy and establishes a presumption of violation of such prohibition (in the absence of proof to the contrary) if the employer terminates the contract of a female employee within six months after delivery.


Procedural requirements for individual dismissals - 2012    

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Notification to the worker to be dismissed: no specific form required

Remarks:
  • Sec. 20(3) EA: Notice to terminate an oral contract may be either verbal or written.

Notice period:
Remarks:
  • - Sec. 20 (2) EA provides that in the absence of any agreement providing for a period of notice of longer duration, the length of such notice shall be-
    (a) subject to the provisions of paragraph (b), twenty-four hours where the contract is for a period of less than a week;
    (b) fourteen days where the contract is a daily contract under which, by agreement or custom, wages are payable not at the end of the day, but at intervals not exceeding one month;
    (c) thirty days where the contract is for a period of one week or more".
    - The notice period to be given to the employee in the event of termination by redundancy is 1 month (see sec. 10 MWCEGO and MWCESO).
    • tenure ≥ 6 months
      • economic dismissal - 1 month(s).
      • oral contract ≥ 1 week - non economic dismissal - 30 day(s).
    • tenure ≥ 9 months
      • economic dismissal - 1 month(s).
      • oral contract ≥ 1 week - non economic dismissal - 30 day(s).
    • tenure ≥ 2 years
      • economic dismissal - 1 month(s).
      • oral contract ≥ 1 week - non economic dismissal - 30 day(s).
    • tenure ≥ 4 years
      • non economic dismissal - 30 day(s).
      • economic dismissal - 1 month(s).
    • tenure ≥ 5 years
      • non economic dismissal - 30 day(s).
      • economic dismissal - 1 month(s).
    • tenure ≥ 10 years
      • non economic dismissal - 30 day(s).
      • economic dismissal - 1 month(s).
    • tenure ≥ 20 years
      • economic dismissal - 1 month(s).
      • oral contract ≥ 1 week - non economic dismissal - 30 day(s).

    Pay in lieu of notice: Yes

    Remarks:
    • Sec. 21 EA:
      "Either party to an oral contract of service may terminate such contract-
      (a) in the case of a contract which may be terminated without notice, by payment to the other party of a sum equal to all wages and other benefits that would have been due to the employee if he had continued to work until the end of the contract period;
      (b) in any other case, by payment to the other party of a sum equal to all wages and other benefits that would have been due to the employee at the termination of the employment had notice to terminate the same been given on the date of payment."
      See also sec. 19 (b) EA: "Each party to an oral contract for a period not exceeding one month shall, on the termination of such contract, be conclusively presumed to have entered into a new oral contract for a further period of the same duration and subject to the same terms and conditions as those of the contract then terminated unless-
      (b) the contract has been terminated by payment in lieu of notice".

    Notification to the public administration: No

    Remarks:
    • Except in the event of individual termination by reason of redundancy (sec. 26B(2) EA, see below - collective dismissal)

    Notification to workers' representatives: No

    Remarks:
    • Except in the event of individual termination by reason of redundancy (sec. 26B(2) EA, see below - collective dismissal)

    Approval by public administration or judicial bodies: No

    Approval by workers' representatives: No

    Notes / Remarks
    - This section deals with individual terminations of oral contracts.
    Termination of written contracts is regulated by sec. 36 EA which reads as follows: "(1) A written contract of service shall be terminated
    (a) by the expiry of the term for which it is expressed to be made; or
    (b) by the death of the employee before such expiry; or
    (c) in any other manner in which a contract of service may be lawfully terminated or deemed to be terminated whether under the provisions of this Act or otherwise.

    (2) Where owing to sickness or accident an employee is unable to fulfill a written contract of service, the contract may be terminated on the report of a registered medical practitioner."
    No further information is given as to termination of a written contract.
    - Individual terminations for reason of redundancy are dealt with under the section on collective dismissals.

    Procedural requirements for collective dismissals for economic reasons (redundancy, retrenchment) - 2012    

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    Definition of collective dismissal (number of employees concerned):
    There is no definition of collective dismissal in the EA.
    The EA provides for a specific procedure applicable to any redundancy which is defined as an individual termination for economic reasons.

    Remarks:
    • Redundancy is regulated by sec. 26B EA (inserted in 1997), and is defined as follows:
      "(1) The contract of service of an employee shall be deemed to have been terminated by reason of redundancy if the termination is wholly or in part due to-
      (a) the employer ceasing or intending to cease to carry on the business by virtue of which the employee was engaged; or
      (b) the business ceasing or reducing the requirement for the employees to carry out work of a particular kind in the place where the employee was engaged and the business remains a viable going concern."

    Prior consultations with trade unions (workers' representatives): Yes

    Remarks:
    • See sec. 26(2)b) EA.

    Notification to the public administration: Yes

    Remarks:
    • Sec. 26B(2)c) EA: notification to the "proper officer" which means the Labour Commissioner and any other officer not less than 60 days before termination takes effect.

    Notification to workers' representatives: Yes

    Remarks:
    • Sec. 26(2)a) EA

    Approval by public administration or judicial bodies: No

    Approval by workers' representatives: No

    Priority rules for collective dismissals (social considerations, age, job tenure): No

    Employer's obligation to consider alternatives to dismissal (transfers, retraining...): Yes

    Remarks:
    • See sec. 26B(2)b) EA:
      "The employer shall afford the representatives of the employee an opportunity for consultations on-
      (i) the measures to be taken to minimise the terminations and the adverse effects on the employees;
      (ii) the measures to be taken to mitigate the adverse effects on the employees concerned including finding alternative employment for the affected employees"

    Priority rules for re-employment: No

    Notes / Remarks
    The procedure described in this section is applicable to any individual termination for reason of redundancy.

    Severance pay and redundancy payment - 2012    

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    Severance pay:
    Remarks:
    • There is no general right to severance pay. Severance pay is only due in the following circumstances:
      - Pursuant to the 2 Orders made under the MWCEA, in the event of termination on medical grounds "as certified by a registered medical practitioner or a medical institution", the employee is entitled to a lump sum of not less that 2 months basic pay for each completed year of service (MWCEGO: sec. 9 and MWCESO: sec. 11).
    • tenure ≥ 6 months: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 9 months: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 1 year: 2 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 2 years: 4 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 4 years: 8 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 5 years: 10 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 10 years: 20 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 20 years: 40 month(s)
    Redundancy payment:
    Remarks:
    • See Minimum Wages and Conditions of Employment (General) Order, 2006 (S.I. No. 57 of 2006), art. 10: redundancy payment shall be not less than 2 months for each completed year of service
    • tenure ≥ 6 months: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 9 months: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 1 year: 2 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 2 years: 4 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 4 years: 8 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 5 years: 10 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 10 years: 20 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 20 years: 40 month(s)

    Notes / Remarks
    1) Termination on medical grounds: severance pay
    2) Summary dismissal not considered justified by the labour officer: severance pay
    3) Termination by reason of redundancy: redundancy payment
    4) Termination for any other reasons: no severance pay

    Avenues for redress (penalties, remedies) and litigation procedure for individual complaints - 2012    

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    Compensation for unfair dismissal - free determination by court: Yes

    Remarks:
    • Sec. 85A ILRA: The Industrial Relations Court may award damages or compensation for loss of employment.
      See also sec. 108 ILRA on discriminatory dismissals and 5 (5) ILRA on dismissal in connection with trade union activities.

    Compensation for unfair dismissal - Legal limits (ceiling in months or calculation method):
    When the competent labour officer decides that the circumstances of the case do not warrant summary dismissal, the employee so dismissed in entitled to "payment of severance benefits" of not less than 2 months basic pay for each completed year of service" (MWCEGO and MWCESO: sec. 12(3)).

    Reinstatement available: Yes

    Remarks:
    • See sec. 85A ILRA and 108 ILRA.
      - Sec. 85A ILRA (general powers of the Industrial Relations Court): The Court may "make an order for reinstatement, re-employment or re-engagement".
      - Sec. 108(3)b) ILRA (discriminatory dismissals): "The Court shall, if it finds in favour of the complainant:
      a) grant to the complainant damages or compensation for loss of employment;
      b) make an order for re-employment or reinstatement in accordance with the gravity of the circumstances of each case"

    Preliminary mandatory conciliation: No

    Remarks:
    • No preliminary mandatory conciliation.
      However, optional conciliation is foreseen in rule 46 of the Industrial Relations Courts Rules (annexed in the ILRA) which states that:
      "In exercising its powers under these Rules, the Court may, whether by adjourning any proceedings or otherwise, use its best endeavours to ensure that, in any case in which it appears to the Court that there is a reasonable prospect of agreement being reached between the parties, they are enabled to avail themselves of the services of conciliation officers or of other opportunities for conciliation".

    Competent court(s) / tribunal(s): labour court

    Remarks:
    • See sec. 85 (4), 85A and 108 ILRA.
      The Industrial Relations Court has jurisdiction over matters specified under the ILRA, such as termination on the grounds of trade union membership or activity and on discriminatory grounds which shall be made within 30 days of the termination (sec. 108 ILRA).
      According to sec. 85(4), ILRA, the court also has jurisdiction to "hear and determine any dispute between any employer and an employee notwithstanding that such dispute is not connected with a collective agreement or other trade union matter". Complaints must be made within 30 days of the event complained of, unless leave is obtained (sec. 85 ILRA).

    Existing arbitration: No

    Source of additional information - 2012    

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    Links

    ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations - Comments on the ILO Termination of Employment Convention, 1982, No. 158, (1990-2009) »

    ILO termination of employment legislation digest - Zambia (last updated in 2000) »