All about Discrimination in the Workplace, Discrimination and Labour Laws in Zambia, Discrimination and Decent Work and more on Mywage Zambia

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is any form of prejudicial, unfair, biased, inequity, bigotry, chauvinist or intolerable treatment based on one’s sex, race, tribe, religion, origin or affiliation. 

Any form of discrimination is illegal in terms of Zambian labour legislation.  A worker who is denied promotion or a pay rise because of their sex, race, religion, marital status and in certain cases, health has the right to seek redress. 

In short, you cannot be discriminated because of your nationality, race, if you are pregnant or on maternity leave, gender, age, disability, religion or belief, ethnic background, marriage or colour.

Types of discrimination 

Direct discrimination: This happens when certain employees are given preference over others by the employer. For example, some employees may be promoted not because of their skills but closeness to the person in charge.

Indirect Discrimination: Refers to unfavourable working conditions that tend to place a few employees in an advantageous position over others. 

Examples of this include conditions such as when an application for jobs in the hospitality industry tends to prefer employing people based on physical appearance that may be disadvantageous to others. An example of this would be a hotel restricting job applicants for a waitressing vacancy to light skinned individuals, thereby disadvantaging dark skinned and qualified persons.

What does the law say?

Zambia is not only bound by the International Labour Organisation Convention on Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) of 1958 (C111) to protect workers from discrimination. 

The country’s Industrial and Labour Relations Act Chapter 269 also restricts any form of discrimination towards employees and employers. 

According to the Act, “No employer shall terminate the services of an employee or impose any other penalty or disadvantage on any employee, on grounds of race, sex, marital status, religion, political opinion or affiliation, tribal extraction or status of the employee”. 

What do you do if you are discriminated against?

Any person, who has reasonable cause to believe that they have been discriminated against on any of the grounds set out above, may within 30 days of the occurrence of the discriminatory incident lodge a formal complaint before the Industrial and Labour Relations Court.  

A court complaint must be lodged within 30 days after the complainant has exhausted all available administrative channels. Administrative channel may include employee-employer talks or trade union [link to the Pros and Cons of Trade Unions] involvement for unionised workers.

In certain circumstances, the court may extend the 30 day period for a further three months after the date on which the complainant has exhausted all the administrative channels available.

What do you get?

If the court determines the matter in favour of the complainant, it may:

  • Grant to the damages or compensation to the complainant
  • Impose a simple fine on the erring employer or employee 
  • Order a reversal of action in accordance with the gravity of the circumstances of each case.

Read more

All you need to know about Decent Work in Zambia


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