Opanin Obeng Fosu, a retired Chief Labour Officer and author of ‘Industrial Relations in Ghana’ says, “as long as the earth remains, there will be the time for workers to be in active employment and the time for them to retire.” He adds, however, that who a worker is and under what type of contract he or she does the works is an issue of great concern.
A formal sector worker’s contract of employment is enshrined in Sections 37, 74 and 75, respectively of the Labour Act 2003, Act 651. These workers may be manual workers, casual workers, temporary workers, permanent workers, fixed term contract workers and outsourced workers.
Manual workers are by-day workers, who are paid on daily basis, such as labourers and tradesmen. Casual workers are those whose work is seasonal and intermittent in nature, such as, sea fearers, plantation workers and those on building sites.
Temporary workers work every day and are normally employed to replace permanent workers, who are on official or excuse duty for a period of time. But if a temporary worker continues to work with the employer after a period of six months, he or she shall be treated as a permanent worker.
The fixed term workers are also those who are given contract by the employer for a specified period and may be subject to renewals. For the fixed term worker the contract terminates after the end of the contract period.
Outsourced workers are workers whose services are engaged by an employer who has been given a job by a principal/main employer to work at the premises. In other words, the workers are not direct employees of the principal employer. In spite of the contract type, it is important to indicate that all the classes of workers mentioned above are workers whose contract are clearly defined under the law, including how the contract should be managed.
Notwithstanding the type of contract, both employers and workers are to work together in harmony to ensure peace on the industrial scene. This will lead to efficiency and effectiveness on the job thereby increasing productivity and also establishing healthy employer-employee relationship.
Sections 10 and 11 of Act 651 stipulate the rights and duties of workers and workers are obliged to be guided by these requirements of the law in the performance of work. The rights of the worker include among others, receiving equal pay for equal work, working under safe and healthy conditions, forming or joining trade unions, undergoing training and receiving relevant information about the job.
The duties are that: the worker must report for work regularly and punctually, obey lawful instructions in the performance of his or her work, protect the interests of the employer, enhance productivity and take care of the property of the employer entrusted to him/her.
Where a worker fails to observe his duties on the job, the employer may apply the necessary sanctions as prescribed in the Contract of Employment, Conditions of Service, Collective Agreement, Staff Handbook or any other document governing the employment relationship.