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Employee Rights and Protections

Explore workers' rights and legal protections in Eswatini


In Eswatini, the Employment Act of 1980 outlines the valid reasons for terminating an employee's services. These include serious breaches of the employment contract such as gross insubordination, theft, or habitual negligence, termed as misconduct. Incapacity, which can be due to poor performance, illness or injury, or operational requirements, is another valid reason for termination.

Notice Requirements

The required notice period for termination depends on the employee's length of service. After the probationary period and one month of employment, one week's notice is required. For three to 12 months of employment, two days' notice per completed month of continuous employment is required. For more than 12 months of employment, one month's notice, plus four days' notice for each completed year of service is required.

Severance Pay

Employees with more than one year of continuous service are entitled to severance pay upon termination. The severance pay calculation is 10 working days' wages for each completed year of service after the first year. However, exceptions to severance pay include dismissal due to serious misconduct and employees who unreasonably refuse suitable alternative employment offered by the employer.

Key Points

Employers must provide written notice of termination, outlining the reasons for dismissal. Employees have the right to challenge unfair dismissals through the Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration Commission (CMAC) or the Industrial Court.


The Constitution of the Kingdom of Eswatini (2005) serves as the primary source of anti-discrimination law in the country.

Protected Characteristics

Section 20 of the Constitution explicitly prohibits discrimination based on gender, race, color, ethnic origin, tribe, birth, creed or religion, social or economic standing, political opinion, age, and disability. However, it's important to note that the constitution does not explicitly mention sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status as grounds for protection against discrimination.

Redress Mechanisms

In case of discrimination, individuals can seek legal remedy through the Industrial Court, which handles discrimination claims related to employment, and the High Court, which addresses broader discrimination cases under the Constitution and other relevant laws. Additionally, the Commission on Human Rights and Public Administration, an independent body, can investigate and attempt to resolve discrimination complaints.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers in Eswatini are legally obligated to uphold anti-discrimination principles. This includes creating non-discriminatory policies in hiring, promotions, compensation, workplace environment, training, and benefits. They are also required to implement and enforce measures to prevent harassment and discrimination, provide training to employees on anti-discrimination law and company policies, and establish clear procedures for employees to report discrimination.

Shortcomings and Challenges

Despite constitutional protections, several challenges and limitations exist in the implementation and enforcement of anti-discrimination laws in Eswatini. These include the absence of comprehensive legislation addressing discrimination outside the realm of employment, limited awareness of anti-discrimination laws among both employees and employers, conflicts with some customary practices and beliefs, and enforcement and redress mechanisms that can be slow or ineffective.

Ongoing Advocacy

Civil society organizations in Eswatini are actively working to advocate for stronger anti-discrimination legislation and better protection for vulnerable groups, including LGBTQI+ persons, who face significant discrimination despite no specific laws criminalizing same-sex relationships.

Working conditions

In Eswatini, the national labor law framework sets the basic standards for working conditions. However, the enforcement of these standards can be inconsistent, and adherence may differ across various sectors.

Work Hours

The standard work week in Eswatini is 48 hours, with a maximum of 9 hours of work per day. Overtime is allowed but is regulated. Once the standard hours are met, overtime pay is required. The specific rates and limitations on overtime hours may vary by industry.

Rest Periods

Workers in Eswatini are entitled to a minimum of one hour break when working a full day. Additionally, all workers are entitled to at least one 24-hour rest period per week.

Ergonomic Requirements

The occupational safety and health (OSH) regulations in Eswatini mandate employers to provide a safe and healthy work environment. This includes aspects of ergonomics, but specific details may not be readily available.

Health and safety

Eswatini has a regulatory framework to ensure occupational safety and health (OSH) in workplaces. This includes outlining employer obligations, employee rights, and the role of enforcement agencies.

Employer Obligations

Eswatini's Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1983 places significant responsibility on employers to create a safe and healthy work environment. Key employer obligations include:

  • Risk Assessment and Mitigation: Employers must identify potential hazards in the workplace and implement measures to control or eliminate risks.
  • Provision of Safe Work Equipment and PPE: Employers are required to provide employees with necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensure machinery and tools are safe for use.
  • Training and Instruction: Employers must provide adequate training and instructions on safe work practices specific to the job role.
  • Accident Reporting and Investigation: Employers must report work-related accidents and illnesses and conduct investigations to prevent recurrence.

Employee Rights

Employees in Eswatini have fundamental rights regarding workplace safety and health, including:

  • The right to a safe and healthy work environment.
  • The right to refuse unsafe work.
  • The right to information and training on workplace hazards and safe work practices.

Enforcement Agencies

The Department of Labour's Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate Unit is responsible for enforcing OSH regulations. This includes conducting inspections, investigating complaints, and issuing improvement or prohibition notices in case of non-compliance.

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