Labour Inspections

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What is inspection under the Labour Institution Act, 2004?

Inspection may be explained as the act of investigating the workplace done by a Labour Officer to foresee whether there is compliance with labour laws by the employer. A number of laws empower certain officials to conduct inspections at workplaces. This article will focus on inspection done by Labour Officers mandated to administer and enforce labour laws under the Labour Institutions Act, No 6 of 2004.

Can a Labour Officer visit my workplace for inspection without giving prior notification?

Yes, the Labour Officer does not need to give you prior notification. For them to be able to find out (hidden) information they need to make surprise visits! If you are informed of the visits you are likely to prepare yourself for the visit and possibly hide some things which you think are contrary to the law. The law requires Labour Officers to have a prescribed certificate of authorisation.

Can the Labour Officer take important books, information etc during their inspection?

The Labour Officers may search for and examine any information, book, document or object and if available/appropriate, to seize them for further observation. They may also take a sample of any object found, take measurements, readings, recordings or photographs and question any person on the premises. In the event of any documents, book or object removed, the Labour Officer is required to issue a receipt acknowledging the same.

I have received a notification requiring me to see the Labour Officer in his office. Is there any penalty if I do not go?

Section 45 (1) (b) mandates the Labour Officer with powers to order any person to appear before him at a specified date, so that the person is questioned. These persons may also be required to furnish any information, book, document or object and explain any entry contained therein. In the event of refusal by the employer to appear before the Labour Officer or to produce any relevant information, document or object, the Labour Officer may institute proceedings in the Resident’s or District Court in the name of the Labour Commissioner. Several offences, including hindering or obstructing a Labour Officer in performance of or in exercising his powers have been listed under section 49 of the Labour Institutions Act, 2004.

What is the Labour Officer mandated to do if it is discovered there is no compliance with labour laws in the workplace?

When a Labour Officer has a reasonable grounds to believe an employer has not complied with the labour laws he will be required to issue a Compliance Order. The same may be issued to any registered trade union and all employees affected by it. An employer may within 30 days of receipt of the Compliance Order in writing object to the order by serving the same to the Labour Commissioner. The employer who has not raised any objection to the compliance order will be required to comply with the order and failure to do so may result in the Labour Commissioner applying to the Labour Court for compliance to that order.

What if, after considering representations by myself as an employer, the Commissioner refuses my objection?

If an objection is refused by the Labour Commissioner an employer may appeal to the Labour Court against an order of the Labour Commissioner. The Labour Court may on such terms and such conditions suspend the order of the Labour Court, pending its final decision/order. The Labour Court may confirm, modify or cancel an order of the Labour Commissioner. 

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