Article 40 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 provides for economic rights. This article seeks to protect labour rights in Uganda. In Particular, Clause (1) (a) provides for the right of persons to work under satisfactory, safe and healthy conditions.
Objective XIV (b) provides that the state shall endeavor to fulfill the fundamental rights of all Ugandans to social justice and economic development and shall in particular, ensure that – all development efforts re directed at ensuring the maximum social and cultural wellbeing of the people; and all Ugandans enjoy rights and opportunities and access to education, health services, clean and safe water, work, decent shelter, adequate clothing, food, security, pension and retirement benefits. This places a direct responsibility on the state and employers to ensure the safety of workers while working. The importance of a safe working environment is discussed in National Security Fund V Makerere University Guest House Civil Suit No. 525 of 2015
The Article further ensures that there is equal payment for equal work without discrimination. It is true that equality before the law and freedom from discrimination are guaranteed however there are exceptions made to accept preferential treatment as discussed in Christopher Madrama V AG Constitutional Appeal No.01 of 2016. Different treatment may be accorded to female public officers on account of marriage in recognition of the unique maternal functions. Notwithstanding anything in the Constitution, the state shall take affirmative action in favour of marginalized groups on the basis of gender, age, disability or any other reason created by history, tradition or custom for the purposes of redressing the imbalances which exist between them. Therefore, there should be equity as opposed to just equality at work.
For effective delivery of work, there is need to ensure that every worker is accorded rest, reasonable working hours and periods of holidays with pay as well as remuneration for public holidays. The case of Mbiika Dennis V Centenary Bank. Industrial Court of Uganda. Labour Dispute Claim No. 023 of 2014 discussed the issue of rest while at work. The Judges opined that section 54 of the Employment Act which is in tandem with Article 40 of the constitution, obliges employers to grant rest days during a calendar year for purposes of making employees rejuvenate and work better. The rest days are an entitlement and not a privilege to be granted by the employer to the employee. Therefore the failure to grant leave entitles one to terminate a contract.