Isn’t it illegal to cut pay without consent?

Friday March 12 2021

Moses Ssesanga

By Moses Ssesanga

Dear Moses,  
I am a freelance contractor and my pay was recently cut without notice unlike my permanent staff colleagues. Isn’t it unlawful and unfair to cut contractors pay without seeking their consent first? Aren’t companies being unfair by cutting these already small wages? Rob.

Dear Rob,
I have written before on these pages that Covid-19 pandemic has brutally traumatised enterprises the world over, irrespective of size (SMEs or Corporates). Many businesses have overnight lost their main revenue streams with estimates running in billions of dollars. 
Consequently, many businesses have been left with no option but to take drastic measures including permanently sending people home, or on leave without pay, or chopping staff salaries /contractors’ fees and in worst case scenario, closing shop completely.  

The only requirement and protection under the law, especially for the reduction of salaries or contractor’s fees is for the employer to seek the affected staff or contractor’s consent before effecting the reductions. Therefore, your employer is required by law to negotiate with you or risk facing litigation for breach of contract.
For other entrepreneurs such as the proprietors of schools and educational institutions, they not only chopped staff but the COVID-19 lockdowns have forced many of them to advertise in the media the sale of their once thriving businesses.

Rob, if your company is not among those that have managed to re-align their production lines into producing essential stuff that’s in high demand like face masks, sanitisers, personal protection equipment (PPEs), etc, hence experiencing growth during the pandemic, then, as a contractor you have had to suffer the negative COVID-19 impact on your income.

A key lesson to pick from this pandemic is, that job or contract or the business venture you have invested in, is like human life. It can be lost at any time. It is never permanent. Therefore, no matter your current skills, job, profession or trade, employed or contracted, learning different sets of skills beyond what you do on day-to-day basis is an innovative personal investment that can give you the bargaining powers you need to determine and sustain your earning abilities in this volatile, uncertain, chaotic and unpredictable world which COVID-19 has morphed into the ‘new normal’.

Moses Ssesanga,
Head of Human Resource, 
NMG Uganda