Practice Area Articles
By Hassan Raza and Masham Sheraz
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KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2021
New Act to protect the rights of persons with disabilities
The National Assembly has enacted ICT Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2020, which safeguards the rights of persons with disabilities and prohibits discrimination against a person on the ground of disability in the matters of employment, promotion, and career development.
Child domestic labour banned
The National Assembly has made amendments to the Employment of Children Act, 1991 in order to ban child domestic labour.
Protection of workers' rights during COVID‑19
The Sindh Assembly has passed the Sindh Covid‑19 Emergency Relief Act, 2020, which directs that, during the notified lockdown period due to COVID‑19, no employee or worker will be laid off, terminated or removed and that the employee must be paid a prescribed minimum salary during the closure of an establishment.
Protection of the rights of home‑based workers
The Government of Sindh has initiated registration of home‑based workers under the Sindh Home‑Based Workers Act, 2018, which now allows home based workers to receive social, medical, and maternity benefits, compensations, and marriages and death grants available to worker/workman under the labour laws applicable in the province of Sindh. This makes Pakistan the only country in South Asia where home workers were recognised as official labourers.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2020
Amendments to Companies Act 2017
The Companies Act 2017 has been amended to cater to the specific needs of start-ups. The amendments include the removal of the time limit for payment of subscription money, the introduction of employees' stock options and share buy-backs, and the issuance of 'sweat' equity for private limited companies. The new provisions also provide powers to the corporate regulator in Pakistan to enact rules and regulations for promoting ease of doing business and the smooth running of companies.
Relief for Employers during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Federal Government and State Bank of Pakistan have announced a special refinance scheme, which is expected to ease cash flow constraints of employers by providing low interest loans to finance wages and salaries.
Protection of workers' rights during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Islamabad Capital Territory and Sindh Governments have passed notifications directing that, during the notified lockdown period due to COVID-19, no worker will be laid off and all workers shall be paid wages in full by their respective employers.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2019
Greater protections for transgender people
Since 2018, transgender people have been afforded the same protections to dignity and security as other members of the public. Transgender people are now formally recognised by law, as “any person whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the society norms and cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at the time of their birth”. There is no legal requirement for a transgender person to obtain consent from a medical board to be recognised as their desired gender.
Criminalising failure to pay minimum wage
From December 2018, it is a criminal offence for employers to pay their labourers less than the minimum wage of Rs 15,000 per month.
Greater support for women in the workplace
In 2019, the government is expected to implement measures aimed at facilitating women labourers in the workplace. Such measures are expected to include the establishment of day-care centres and female-only bathrooms and canteens.