Proposed Labor bill to improve consistency and ratified International labour conventions


The Labour and Employment Relations Act 2013 amendments seek to improve consistency and ratified International Labour Organization conventions, clarify terms and conditions of employment, clarify the role of labour inspectors, improve processes for resolving employee grievances and complaints and provide for a process regarding the termination of employment.

This is outlined in the pre-sitting summary documents from yesterday’s sitting.

Chief Executive Officer – Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling explained this Bill went through the proper process of consultations

Leader of the Opposition, Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi pointed out the issue regarding conditions to employing a minor. Clause 32, section 51 permits a 13-year-old to engage in light work employment the Member questioned, what is the definition of “light work”.

“This needs to be clarified to ensure the safety of the minor.”

He further suggested that 16-year-olds should be given entrance to work for general employment and 18-year-olds to be employed in more heavy work, based on our Fa’asamoa culture and way of life where parents would need the assistance of the children for the development of their families.

The former Prime Minister also pointed out the importance of amendments made regarding ‘sex and female’ in the workplace and the role of women in our community whereby equal rights should be enhanced.

He mentioned the significance of enforcing policies whereby couples are prohibited from working together especially in Government Ministries as this is where issues may arise. Tuilaepa stressed the inconsistency in translations, and clarified that in clause 7, section 13, substitute ‘manpower’ with ‘employees’, however in the Samoan version the amendment remains the same ‘tagata faigaluega’.

The Opposition further advised that translation should be consistent to avoid confusion.

Tuilaepa also advised the Ministry on their process to re-adjust wages for casual employees to make sure that there is a solid balance between the wage earners and the permanent workers so that other business people and companies are not affected as they also contribute to our economy.

Other Members queried the amendments made to leave entitlements of employees.

Member of Parliament for Anoamaa No.2 Fonotoe Pierre Meredith sought an explanation from the Ministry on the status of ‘leave’ for employees, especially at this time of Covid-19 specifically for those working in Companies.

Member for Satupaitea Lautai Selafi Purcell the former Minister of MCIL noted that this bill was in discussion during his time as Minister.

He reminded the Ministry that they should encourage their employees to take leave when necessary, it is the sole purpose of having Sick leave, is to utilize it when sick and further suggested one way to monitor leave usage is through auditing and follow up.

Pulotu explained the leave requirement in the amendment bills specifically for companies during Covid-19 so that workers are entitled to special leave when affected by the virus.

Member for Sagaga No.2 Maulolo Tavita Amosa suggested the word ‘aiga faasoesa’ is wrongly used to translate ‘sexual harassment as it implies a different meaning and that there should be accurate translation to avoid confusion.

Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa questioned whether the Ministry has made changes referring to Clause 33 section 52 on Maternity and paternity leave. The CEO clarified that they have not made changes to the Maternity and Paternity leave as it comes with a huge pay-out but there will be a time.