Atwoli, Cherargei clash over bill against off-duty calls

The COTU boss argues that the proposed law would lead to job losses.

In Summary
  • Atwoli says the proposed law will also hurt the government's efforts of a 24-hour economy.
  • However, Cherargei maintains the bill seeks to protect the mental health of employees.
Cotu boss Francis Atwoli.
JOB LOSSES: Cotu boss Francis Atwoli.
Image: FILE

Veteran unionist Francis Atwoli has differed with Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei over a proposed bill banning employers from contacting staff outside official working hours.

The Central Organisation of Trade Union boss warned that, if passed into law, the bill would lead into massive jobs losses besides blocking investments.

Atwoli, in a statement, warned the bill would force employees to enter into new contract terms with their employers a move that he said will disadvantage workers.

He said the change of employments terms will likely see employers scrap pensions making many jobs casual.

“Many employees will lose their jobs because the employers will take advantage and make sure that people are not employed on permanent and pensionable terms,” Atwoli said in a statement.

“They will casualise all jobs because of the difficulty in operations once an employee goes home.”

But Cherargei told off Atwoli saying the proposed law seeks to protect the mental health of employees across the country and allow them enough time to spend with their families.

“When an employer calls their staff members over the weekends, they are going against the right to privacy by eating into the time an employee would be spending with their families,” the senator said.

“Family time should be respected and an employee has a right to disconnect from work-related matters from Friday to Monday morning when they are required to report back.”

According to Cherargei, if the bill is enacted, it will enable employees across the country to be more productive.

“The after-work calls lead to burnout and lowers the productivity of the employees in terms of production. This is about protecting the mental health of these employees,” he said.

But Atwoli says that whenever employees are called after work hours, they are usually compensated for their time.

He added that most employees made the decision to work extra hours as a way of increasing their incomes.

“When employees are called after work hours, they are not called for free. They are normally paid. Many people want to work overtime to get that extra cash,” Atwoli said.

“If the terms and conditions as per the letter you signed stated that you can be called at any time, then you should pick up the call. Otherwise, that would be a disciplinary issue.”

Cherargei's bill protects employees from being subjected to any disciplinary actions, if they refuse to work beyond working hours.


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