Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Ugandan Migrant Workers Abroad, No. 62
- Responsible Organizations: The Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development, Government of Uganda (Government)
- ILO Regions: Africa
- Country(ies): Uganda
- Theme(s): Migration process; Protection of migrant workers
- Start date: 2005
The objectives of the statutory regulations include promoting the rights of Ugandan migrant workers by securing the best possible terms and conditions of employment for them in countries with have labour and social laws and licensing and regulating private recruitment agencies, and through them, regulating the treatment of Ugandan migrant workers by foreign employers.
Activities, processes and steps involved:
Over the past three decades, Uganda has seen a great number of its citizens migrating for employment in search of better prospects in both developed and developing countries. Recognizing the potential negative consequences of labour migration as well as the potential benefits the Ugandan government passed regulations to oversee the foreign employment process. In 2005, the Ugandan government passed the Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Ugandan Migrant Workers Abroad, Regulations No. 62, popularly known in Uganda as ¿Nkuba Kyeyo¿. The Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development, through the External Employment Unit (EEU), is the lead agency responsible for implementing and enforcing the law.
The regulations include a substantial section on licensing and regulation of private recruitment, intended to protect the rights of migrant workers. It specifies the qualifications for persons operating recruitment agencies, requirements to obtain a license, such as proof of financial capacity and the amount of minimum required capital, proof of marketing capability (experience and international connections), clearance of members of the Board of Directors, partners, and proprietor by government agencies. Applicants for a license are required to ensure that migrant workers are provided orientation on recruitment and terms and conditions of work; ensure that contracts of employment are in accordance with the standard employment contract and other laws, regulations and collective bargaining agreements; ensure that migrant workers examine their contracts before they sign them and receive copies; guarantee compliance with labour and social legislation of Uganda, of the country of employment, and international labour bodies such as the ILO.
Another significant requirement is that recruiters assume joint liability with the employer for all claims and liabilities that may arise in connection with the implementation of the employment contract, including wages, death and disability compensation, and repatriation. Licenses are valid for two years and can be renewed after a successful clearance from the Criminal Investigations Department, among other requirements.
Before issuing a license, the External Employment Unit conducts an inspection of the premises and pertinent documents, as well as periodic inspections and inspections after receipt of complaints. Violations are subject to penalties, including denial or loss of license. There are also rules on the advertisement of job vacancies and fees that may be charged to workers. The External Employment Unit must provide free legal service to victims of illegal recruitment. The Government may conduct surveillance on recruiters and may issue closure orders of their businesses and premises for noncompliance.
A section on Placement by the Private Sector requires accreditation of foreign employers prior to their employment of Ugandans, with only licensed agencies being entitled to apply for their accreditation. Accreditation is normally valid for two years and may be revoked. Employers that have violated their contractual obligations to workers, violated rules and regulations on overseas employment, or committed grave misconduct are blacklisted and prohibited from employing Ugandan workers. Part III also requires the submission of recruitment orders for workers stating their wages and copies of their signed employment contracts. If recruitment agencies fail to deploy workers within 120 days after receipt of the recruitment order without valid reason, they may be fined or have their licenses cancelled or suspended.
Placement by the Administration provides for the recruitment and placement of workers by the External Employment Unit primarily on government-to-government arrangements and also for foreign employers in sectors dictated by policy. This section also provides for the processing of individual workers¿ foreign employment where they have secured contracts on their own.
The promotion and development of employment opportunities abroad by the External Employment Unit, employment standards, and minimum provisions for employment contracts are outlined in the section, Market Development and Formulation of Employment Standards. These include guaranteed wages, overtime pay, free emergency medical and dental care, just cause for termination, workers compensation benefits and war hazard protection, assistance in remittance transfer, and free and adequate lodging or compensatory food allowance. This section also provides for the development of standard employment contracts.
The External Employment Unit also oversees the suspension, cancellation, and revocation of licenses and procedural regulations in the processing of complaints against recruiters. The EEU also has developed a Standard Bilateral Agreement to guide negotiations with potential destination countries.
Ugandans emigrating for employment
The Uganda Missions abroad, External Security Organization, and Internal Security Organization are crucial partners, as they help coordinate the handling and exchange of information regarding Ugandan job seekers with the destination countries.
In 2006, the EEU licensed ten recruitment agencies and the regulations benefited 600 Ugandan emigrants.
Relevant criteria for assessment
1. Respect for migrant worker rights:
The regulatory instrument protects the rights of migrant workers by implementing a licensing procedure to oversee the activities of recruitment agencies; stipulating the requirement of acceptable contracts that ensure migrants¿ employment security when they are abroad; requiring employers to guarantee decent terms and conditions of employment; and facilitating the smooth transfer of remittances from abroad to Uganda.
The statutory instrument adequately provides a safe and transparent way for Ugandans working or aspiring to work outside Uganda to learn about the employment opportunities abroad and the terms and conditions of employment to expect and to migrate through regular channels. The instrument also provides for a government agency to oversee the practices and activities of recruitment agencies and thus help to reduce the risks of migrating for employment.
3. Additional or spill over benefits:
The regulation could have a positive on the social and economic development of Uganda by ensuring that migration occurs by choice and under safe, transfer and favourable conditions.
4. (Positive) Impact:
Uganda migrant workers abroad are potential agents of development and can contribute to the fight against poverty. They bring in needed skills physically or through new technologies, work ethics, experiences, entrepreneurial activities, investment, including capacities in education and health, other expenditures, and remittances. Therefore, the resultant orderly, dignified and documented entry of Ugandan migrant workers into labour markets abroad can potentially strengthen Uganda¿s development process through the increased investment, remittances and knowledge and skills transfers.
5. Potential for replication and extension (adaptability):
Other origin countries could institution similar regulations to ensure the protection and better terms and conditions of work of their nationals abroad.
The regulation comprehensively addresses the recruitment process to ensure that potential migrants are aware of their conditions of employment and to prevent any abuse or exploitation by unscrupulous recruit agents and employers.