In order to maintain industrial peace and work in the spirit of harmony and cooperation worker- employer relations should be governed by law. Basic rights of employees should be respected by the employers and the employees should render their obligations to the employers. In Ethiopia labor proclamation No 377/96 puts a detailed list of rights and obligations of these parties. Once an Employment relation is formed there are certain obligations that are imposed on an employer. Such obligations may serve as the rights of the employee by default.

List us see them one by one. 

A.     Obligations of an Employer 

Any employers in addition to special stipulations in the contract of employment have the following obligations.

1.          To provide work to the worker according to the contract of employment.

2.         To provide him with materials and implements necessary for the performance of the work.

3.         To pay the worker wages and other necessary payments that should be made.

4.         To respect the worker’s human dignity.

5.         To take all the necessary occupational safety and health measures and to abide by the standards and directives given by the appropriate authorities in respect of these measures.

6.         To cover the cost of medical examination of the worker whenever such medical examination required.

7.         To give the worker, weekly rest days’ public holidays and leave.

8.         When the contract of employment is terminated or whenever the worker so requests, to provide the worker, free of charge, with a certificate stating  the type of work he performed, the length of service and the salary he was earning.

B.     Obligations Of a Workers

Every worker shall have the following obligations.

1.       To perform in person the work specified in his contract of employment

2.      To follow instructions given by the employer based on the terms of the contract and work rules

3.      To handle with due care all instruments and tools entrusted to him for work.

4.      To report for work always in fit mental and physical conditions

5.      To give all proper aid when an accident occurs or an imminent danger threatens life or property in his place of work without endangering his safety and health.

6.      To inform the employer immediately of any act which endangers himself or his fellow workers or which may prejudice the interests of the undertakings.

7.      To observe the provisions of this proclamation, collective agreements, work rules and directives issued in accordance with the law.

It is unlawful for a worker to intentionally commit, in the place of work, any act which endangers life and property and to take away property from the work place without the express authorizations of the employer. If an employee report for work in a state of intoxication or getting drunk he is trespassing employment law.

The employee should be voluntary to submit himself for medical examination when required by law or by employer for reasonable cause except HIV/AIDS test:

The employer should not impede the worker in any manner in exercise of his rights or take any measure against him because he exercised his right. It is also unlawful to discriminate against female workers, in matters of remuneration on the ground of their sex. Actually the employer can not discriminate between workers on the basis of nationality, sex, religion, political out look or any other conditions. The contract of employment should be terminated, if necessary, according the provisions of labour proclamation No 377/96. Any employer can not coerce any worker by force or in any other manner to join or not to join or to cease to be a member of a trade union or to vote for or against any given candidate in elections for trade union offices. Every employee has the right to work in safe work place. So, the employer should not require any worker to do any work which is hazardous to his life.

C.     Working conditions of women

Even if every employee is entitled with every right mentioned above, women workers need some additional rights due to many factors. Women used to be discriminated on the basis of their sex as regards employment and payment. But labour proclamation377/96 States that women should not e discriminated. It is also prohibited to employ women on type of work that are listed by the labour minister to be particularly hazardous or harmful to their health. There are some exceptions for pregnant women. No pregnant women shall be assigned to right work between 10:00 p.m and 6:00 a.m. or be employed on overtime work. Any pregnant women shall not be assigned out side her permanent place of work, provided, however, she shall be transferred to another place of work if her job is dangerous to her health or pregnancy.

The employment contract of pregnant women shall not be terminated during her pregnancy and until four months of her confinement (4 months after giving birth). But it may be terminated for some reasons, if they are not related to giving birth and pregnancy.

A pregnant women worker shall be granted a period of 30 consecutive days of leave with pay preceding the presumed date of her confinement and a period of 60 consecutive days of leave after her confinement. If necessary, upon recommendation of a medical doctor, she may i.e. entitle to a leave (sick leave) with pay.

 D.    Work conditions of young workers

According to Art.89 (1) of proclamation No 377/96 young workers means a person who has attained the age of 14; but is not over the age of 18 years. There are some working conditions set for young workers. They should not be treated just like other workers. Basically, it is prohibited to employ person’s under14 years of age. Employing young workers on working conditions which endangers their health or life is prohibited by the law.

The ministry of labour and social affairs may list activities that should not be carried out by young workers.

1.          Work in the transport of passengers and goods by road, railway, air and internal waterway, docksides and warehouses involving heavy weight lifting, pulling or pushing or any other related type of labour.

2.         Underground work, such as mines, quarries and similar works.

3.         Work connected with electric power generation plants transformers or transmission, lines.

4.         Work in sewers and digging tunnels.

Normal hours of work for young workers shall not exceed seven hours a day. It is prohibited to employ young workers on right work times between 10 p.m & 6 a.m. for over time work on weekly rest days and on public holidays.

E.     Penalty provisions.

If an employer causes workers to work beyond the maximum hours set fourth in the labour proclamation, he shall be liable to a fine not exceeding Birr 500. The same penalty will be imposed on him if the employer infringes the provisions regulating weekly rest days, public holidays or leaves.

Any worker who committed unlawful activity in the working place or terminates a contract of employment in a way contrary to law, shall be liable to a fine not exceeding 1,200 Birr. No criminal proceedings of any kind of shall be instituted where one year has elapsed from the date on which the offence was committed.

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