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Malawi Law Society rues poor labour relations

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The Malawi Law Society (MLS) has said the profile of matters handled in the Industrial Relations Court (IRC) clearly shows that there is poor quality of labour relations between employers and their employees.

Courts in general continue being overburdened, particularly due to inadequate human resource and the IRC has not been spared.

According to MLS Honorary Secretary, Khumbo Soko, some matters which are presented before the IRC would have otherwise been solved without going through a litigation process if there was mutual understanding of labour laws between employers and employees.

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He said this in Lilongwe yesterday during a workshop which MLS organised to discuss with employers different issues bordering on labour practices.

Soko said, among others, redundancies, retrenchments, severance pays and gratuities, can cost employers a lot of money if not handled properly.

“So the thinking is that the employers can be empowered; they can improve the quality of their decision making so that in the end they will save themselves money,” Soko said.

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He added: “There are people who are fired or declared redundant or retrenched without proper procedures being followed. There are a lot more labour issues which need to be looked into, and the gaps must be addressed.”

One of the workshop’s facilitators, Allan Muhome, said things are changing all the time such that it is important for employers and even legal practitioners to be updated on emerging trends.

“Labour law is one important area that is changing all the time and we cannot overemphasise the need for employees, employers and legal practitioners to be acquainted with the current status of the law.

“Issues, for example, of open-ended contracts and fixed contracts come up all the time with various disputes. If human resource practitioners, for example, were well acquainted on the differences in these types of contracts, then that would be a better world,” Muhome said.

According to Muhome, employers’ clear understanding of labour laws would also prove more worthwhile because the IRC, which is already running short of human resource, would be less burdened.

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