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Employee Rights and Protections

Explore workers' rights and legal protections in Botswana


In Botswana, the termination of an employment relationship is governed by specific regulations that ensure fairness and protect both employees and employers.

Lawful Grounds for Dismissal

The Botswana Employment Act (Cap 47:01) outlines the valid reasons an employer may terminate an employment contract:

  • Misconduct: Serious breaches of the employment contract, such as dishonesty, negligence, insubordination, or willful damage to property, can constitute misconduct as grounds for termination.
  • Poor Performance: Consistent underperformance that fails to meet the employer's reasonable standards, despite warnings and attempts to improve, may justify dismissal.
  • Incapacity: Ill health or injury rendering the employee unable to perform their duties over a considerable period can be grounds for termination for incapacity.
  • Operational Requirements (Redundancy): Economic or structural reasons necessitating workforce reduction may result in dismissals due to operational requirements.

Notice Requirements

The required notice period for terminating an employment contract in Botswana depends on how the employee is paid:

  • Daily Paid: One day's notice is required.
  • Weekly Paid: One week's notice is required.
  • Monthly Paid: One month's notice is required.
  • Notice in Lieu of Payment: Instead of serving the notice period, the employer may opt to pay the equivalent amount as compensation.
  • Summary Dismissal: Immediate dismissal without notice is permissible in cases of serious misconduct by the employee.

Severance Pay

Botswana's severance pay requirements apply to employees with continuous service for at least sixty (60) months. The entitlement is calculated as follows:

  • First 60 months: One day's basic pay for every month of service.
  • After 60 months: Two days' basic pay for every additional month of service.
  • Exceptions: Employees receiving a gratuity or those covered under a pension scheme upon termination may not be entitled to the severance benefit.


In Botswana, the primary sources of anti-discrimination law are the Constitution of Botswana and the Employment Act. These laws aim to foster a society free from discrimination based on various characteristics.

Protected Characteristics

Botswana's anti-discrimination protections cover the following:

  • Race: This includes nationality, tribe, ethnic group, and place of origin.
  • Color
  • Sex
  • Gender
  • Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity
  • Marital Status
  • Pregnancy
  • Religion or Creed
  • Political Opinion
  • Disability (including HIV status)
  • Social Status

Redress Mechanisms

Victims of discrimination in Botswana have several options:

  • Internal Reporting: If the incident occurs within the workplace, the Employment Act encourages reporting the matter to the employer or a designated representative for internal grievance resolution.
  • Labour Office: Individuals can lodge complaints with the Commissioner of Labour within their district regarding unfair employment practices and discrimination.
  • The Courts: For cases where internal resolution or action by the Labour Office is unsatisfactory, victims may seek further legal remedies through the courts. The Industrial Court hears employment-related disputes, while constitutional rights violations fall under the jurisdiction of the High Court.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers in Botswana are required to:

  • Prevent Discrimination: Take proactive measures to create and maintain a workplace that is free from discrimination, including having clear policies in place.
  • Treat Complaints Seriously: Implement a system for handling and investigating discrimination claims thoroughly and promptly.
  • Educate Employees: Raise awareness about anti-discrimination laws through training and communication to prevent and recognize discriminatory behavior.

Important Considerations

  • Customary Laws: While Botswana's laws promote equality, it's important to be aware that some customary laws and practices in certain communities may still perpetuate discriminatory attitudes.
  • Enforcement: While Botswana has progressive anti-discrimination laws, challenges exist regarding effective enforcement, especially in informal sectors and remote communities.

Working conditions

In Botswana, a set of legal regulations are upheld to ensure fair and healthy work environments. These standards are outlined in the Employment Act of 1982 and govern aspects like work hours, rest periods, and ergonomic considerations.

Work Hours

  • Standard Workweek: The standard workweek in Botswana is typically 45 hours, allowing a maximum of nine hours per day for a five-day week or eight hours per day for a six-day week.
  • Exceptions: Security guards and certain other professions might have slightly extended daily or weekly hour limits as defined by specific regulations.
  • Overtime: Overtime work is capped at 14 hours per week. Overtime pay is mandated by law, with a minimum of 1.5 times the regular hourly rate for normal working days and double the rate (200%) for public holidays and rest days.

Rest Periods

  • Daily Breaks: Employees are entitled to breaks throughout the workday. The specific duration is not explicitly mandated but should be reasonable to prevent fatigue and ensure well-being.
  • Weekly Rest Day: At least one 24-consecutive-hour rest day, typically on Sundays, is required within every seven-day period.
  • Shift Work: For employees working shifts, there must be a rest period of at least 30 consecutive hours within a seven-day period.

Ergonomic Requirements

While there aren't extensive regulations regarding ergonomics in the workplace, the Employment Act broadly requires employers to provide a safe working environment. This could be interpreted to include ensuring proper workstation setup and addressing potential ergonomic hazards to minimize musculoskeletal disorders.

It's important to note:

  • The Department of Labour can provide more specific guidance on ergonomic best practices.
  • Trade unions can also play a role in advocating for and enforcing ergonomic standards in workplaces.

Health and safety

In Botswana, worker well-being is a priority, and this is reflected in a comprehensive framework of health and safety regulations. This guide will delve into the obligations of employers, the rights of employees, and the enforcement landscape to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.

Employer Obligations

The Factories Act (Cap. 46:08) and the Employment Act (Cap 47:02) form the foundation of health and safety regulations in Botswana. Employers are legally required to:

  • Provide a Safe Workplace: Employers must identify potential hazards, implement risk mitigation measures, and maintain a work environment that minimizes the risk of accidents and occupational illnesses.
  • Proper Training and Information: All employees must be adequately informed and trained on health and safety procedures specific to their roles and the potential hazards present in the workplace.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Employers must provide appropriate PPE to protect employees from identified workplace hazards.
  • Accident Reporting and Investigation: Employers are obligated to report work-related accidents and illnesses to the Department of Occupational Health and Safety (DOHS) and conduct thorough investigations to prevent recurrence.
  • Maintain Work Equipment: Regular maintenance of machinery and equipment is required to ensure their safe operation.

Employee Rights

Employees in Botswana have the right to a safe and healthy work environment. The Employment Act empowers them to:

  • Refuse Unsafe Work: Employees can refuse to perform tasks they believe are unsafe if proper precautions haven't been taken.
  • Report Unsafe Conditions: Employees have the right to report unsafe work practices or conditions to their supervisor, the DOHS, or their trade union representative.
  • Participate in Safety Committees: Employees can participate in workplace safety committees, if established, to contribute to a safe work environment.

Enforcement Agencies

The Department of Occupational Health and Safety (DOHS) under the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs is the primary agency responsible for enforcing health and safety regulations in Botswana. The DOHS conducts inspections, investigates complaints, and advises employers and employees on best practices.

Additionally, the Factories Inspectorate within the DOHS focuses on upholding safety standards in industrial settings governed by the Factories Act.

Fines and Penalties: Employers who fail to comply with health and safety regulations can face hefty fines and even imprisonment in severe cases.

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