Monday, March 23, 2020

Employment Conditions

The minimum age for workers in Bangladesh is 18 years in factories and establishments. Contracts are made in the form of a letter of offer. Workers may also be engaged on verbal agreements. In government organisations and in some private organisations as well, a probation period exists for skilled or semi-skilled workers varying between three months to one year. During this period either party may serve one month's notice for termination of the job. In the private sector, the dignity of labour is ensured in accordance with the principles enunciated by the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) conventions and recommendations.

In Bangladesh 48 labour laws are now in operation. These relate to wages and employment, trade union & industrial disputes, working environments and labour administration and related matters. The main labour laws are:

 Workmen's Compensation Act 1923
 Payment of Wages Act 1936
 Maternity Benefits Act 1936
 Employment of Labour (Standing Orders) Act 1965
 Shops & Establishments Act 1965
 Factories Act 1965
 Industrial Relations Ordinance 1969

Contracts or agreements are usually made between the management and the Collective Bargaining Agent (CBA) for the settlement of industrial disputes as per provisions of the Industrial Relations Ordinance 1969.

 In cases where a bipartite negotiation fails, the conciliation machinery of the government is requested by the aggrieved party to intervene and a conciliation process is undertaken. If this succeeds, an agreement is signed between the parties and the Conciliation Officer becomes a witness. If it fails, the party raising the dispute may go for a strike or lockout as the case may be. The government may, however, prohibit the same after one month in the interest of the public. In essential services such as electricity, gas, oil and water supply etc., hospital & ambulance services, fire brigades, railways and the Bangladesh Biman, and ports etc., strikes are prohibited

In the public sector, wages and fringe benefits of workers are determined by the government on the recommendation of the National Wages Commission, which is established from time to time. (Commissions were appointed in 1973, 1977, 1984, 1989 and 1992.) Wages and fringe benefits declared by the government in 1977 have 20 grades of wages. Public sector employees are, however, covered by the Pay Commission which is declared by the government from time to time.

In the private sector, the wages and fringes benefits of workers and employees are determined through a collective bargaining process. Sometimes, private industries follow the public sector wages and salary structure for their workers and employees respectively.

Leave and holidays of workers and employees are regulated by the Factories Act 1965 and the Shops Establishment Act 1965.

The Workmen’s Compensation, Maternity Benefit (Tea Estate) Act 1950, Maternity Benefit Act 1939 and Employment of Labour (standing orders) Act 1965 etc. deal with provident funds and gratuities.

The Industrial Relations Ordinance 1969 deals with trade unions in Bangladesh. In any industrial and commercial establishment, a trade union may be formed with 30% of the total number of workers employed. If there is more than one union in any establishment, a collective bargaining agent is determined by the Registrar of the trade union through a sector ballot for a term of two years. Only the collective bargaining agent is authorised to raise industrial disputes and negotiate with the management. The Director of Labour of the government acts as the Registrar of Trade Unions in Bangladesh.

The Industrial Relations Ordinance 1969 provides that any worker or employer/ has the right to form a union/association without previous authorisation. But such a union/association cannot function as a trade union without being registered under the law

Workers in the public or private sector remain at their job for 8 hours daily (including half an hour for meal or rest) with Friday & Saturday as a weekly holiday marking 40 working hours per week. Work in excess of these hours is paid as overtime. The rate of overtime is two hours pay for one hour of work.

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