The Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations (MELR) is engaged in broad-based consultations with various groups, including Persons With Disability (PWDs), towards amendment of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651).
So far, the ministry has engaged 11 groups with the aim of collecting data on the challenges, deficiencies, ambiguities, among others, that PWDs face when it comes to applying, implementing and enforcing labour laws.
The development has presented the ministry with the opportunity to justify the review of the act.
The groups involved are the Ghana Society of the Physically Disabled, the Ghana Association of Persons with Albinism, the Ghana Burns Survivors Foundation, the Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) and the National Council for Persons with Disability (NCPD).
The labour law
Moves to review the Labour Law and its related legislations began about a month ago with the aim to merging other laws regarding labour, employment, trades union and industries.
The processes towards amending the law are being supported by the European Union (EU) and also seeks to restructure the National Labour Commission (NLC), establish a modern Labour Office and to provide for sound promotions in employment relative to the labour market and other comparatives.
The ministry has in the meantime consulted with a host of other groups, including the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), the Ghana Employers Association, the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC), the Institute of Human Resource and Management Practitioners, the Factories Inspectorate Department, the National Labour Commission and the Industrial and Commercial Union.
Lapses and proposals
The arrangement which is in the form of focused group discussions has the participants identifying lapses in the Labour Law and putting their proposals across to help address them.
For instance, the definition of disability in the law was challenged since it recognised only persons with physical disability, particularly those with mobility challenges.
It was proposed, therefore, that disability be redefined by labour to encompass all other disabilities, including albinos as new groups were still emerging.
The participants also called for the labour law to be amended to compel employers, including industrialists, to give PWDs a fixed employment quota in their organisations in order to ensure that PWDs were not unjustifiably left out of the job market.
“People with disabilities are generally discriminated against. Employers should be introduced to the new meaning of disability because some don’t see burns and so on as a disability.
The acting Director of Human Resource at the MELR, Ms Gloria Bortele Noi, said since the labour Act was passed in 2003, it had never been reviewed even though new dynamics with regard to PWDs had emerged.
She observed that it had become necessary to amend the law because most disability issues were not captured in the existing law, adding that “before the law was made, it was just one set of disability that people knew.”