Power and Politics

Govt initiates moves to review minimum wage, conditions of service for low income earners


Cabinet has approved the issuance of a Statutory Instrument on the review of the minimum wages and conditions of service for domestic workers, shop workers and employees covered under the General Order.

President Hakainde Hichilema, called for the 18th Cabinet Meeting on Monday, October, 30, 2023, at State House, to deliberate on policy and legislative matters that would foster national development and improve the general livelihoods of the people.

Chief Government Spokesperson, Cornelius Mweetwa, said this in a statement issued in Lusaka on Wednesday.

He said this followed the recommendation of the Tripartite Consultative Labour Council meeting at which government, trade unions and the representatives of employers, agreed to review the existing minimum wages and conditions of employment.

“The proposed revision in minimum wages has been necessitated mainly due to the changes in the cost of living, the average national earnings, inflation, unemployment rate and capacity of employers to pay,” Mweetwa said.

He said the revision of the minimum wages and conditions of service was also in line with the International Labour Organisation Convention No. 131, the Minimum Wage Fixing Convention for Protection of Vulnerable Workers.

Mweetwa said Cabinet was of the view that this category of employees needed some kind of relief to enable them meet their needs and support to their families.

“Cabinet also approved the issuance of the National Pension Scheme Penalty Waiver Regulations, 2023,” he said.

Mweetwa said the regulations aimed to operationalise the provisions of the National Pension Scheme Amendment Act No. 20 of 2022 on the Penalty Waiver.

He said the Statutory Instrument on the penalty waiver was intended to reduce the debt burden for businesses and allow employers to clear their outstanding dues with NAPSA with the incentive that part of the debt would be written off.

“It will provide relief to businesses that were hard hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, encourage small-scale businesses including employers from the informal economy (such as employers of domestic workers) to register their employees with the scheme without worrying about high penalties for non-payment of past contributions,” Mweetwa said.

Read More: Musonda, policy analyst, warns of backlash on proposed review of labour code

He said it would also enhance compliance levels, thereby stimulating the growth of businesses as freed-up resources would be used for reinvestment.

Cabinet, he noted, realised that as of December, 31, 2022, a number of employers owed NAPSA huge sums of money in penalties.

“Further, NAPSA has, by law, been prosecuting some employers annually for failure to remit contributions which also results in additional operational costs to the Authority,” he said.

Mweetwa added that granting the penalty waiver would provide companies with financial relief and stimulate business growth and employment creation.

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