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Opinions of Saturday, 22 August 2015

Columnist: Baafi, Alex Bossman

Terms and Conditions of Employment

By Alex Bossman Baafi

This article was informed by the ongoing strike by the members of the Ghana Medical Association for lack of Working Condition of Service that had to be provided by the Government, the employer.

In as much as many workers know what is Conditions of Service, a lot more who are not in formal employment do not understand what it is. Many wonder about the fact that its absence in the working lives of the medical doctors had led to the crisis the country is facing in our public hospitals as result of the strike.

Before addressing the subject matter, I will like us to have a look at a brief history of employment relationship in the olden days of what was called Capitalism.

Capitalism

For the sake of subject, I define capitalism to mean an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profits rather than by the state. Under this system, the means for providing and distributing goods and services including the lands, factories, technology, transport system among others, were owned by a small minority of people. They were referred to as capitalists. The majority of people must sell their ability to work in return for wages or salaries. This majority were referred to as working class.

The working classes were paid to produce goods and services which were sold for profits. The profit was gained by the capitalist class and they made more money selling what was been produced at the expense of cheap labor in the market. The working class (labor) for that matter was exploited by the capitalist class. The capitalist lived off the profit they made from this employer-employee relationship and reinvested some of their profits for further accumulation of wealth.

In response to the exploitative nature of this early capitalism, employees begun to come together to develop a collective force to protect employment conditions of skilled labor. Over time, states or countries made trade union representations legal. Employers then had no option but to accept such constraints upon their freedom and so the concept of (discussing) negotiating terms and conditions of Employment with labor emerged into modern society.


When you have a job and you decide to employ people, you look for those who satisfy your requirement, in terms of qualification and experience. After interviews you write successful ones offering them the job. It then becomes a legal requirement that you provide the employees key terms and conditions of employment. Once people accept your offer of employment, you have entered into legal arrangement or contract of employment. Therefore some of their employment rights will begin as soon as they start work with you.


Terms and Conditions of Employment

In offering the job, you do not have to put down in writing all of their terms and conditions of employment, but you will have to do this within two months of them starting work with you. The sooner you do this the better. The following information must form part of the written statements of terms and conditions of employment;

• Name of employer and employee,
• Job Title or position
• key job objectives or Job Description
• Date of Employment
• Job Location,
• Basic Pay and whether it’s weekly, monthly etc,
• Other Allowances & Benefits
• Working Hours
• Holiday Entitlement.
• Details of any collective agreements that directly affect the employee’s condition of employment.

Normally additional information can be provided in other documents known as staff handbook or staff manual. They include sick leave and pay entitlements, pension and pension schemes, discipline and grievances procedures, as well as termination of employment clauses.

Changing or Varying Contract

At some point in employment relationship, either party bound by contract may want to change it. For example an employer may want to reorganize the business due to economic circumstances. This may lead to changes in working hours or pay. An employee may seek improvement in their pay; holiday’s, allowances or may want a change in working hours due to domestic responsibilities and others. We must note however that an existing contract of employment can be varied or changed only with the agreement of both parties. Changes can be agreed by either on an individual basis or through a collective agreement. Changes occur in working relationship for all kinds of reasons but problems can be avoided or resolved through discussions with agreed changes recorded in writing.

Conclusion

We must know that work and employment relations are so important for any economy and society. Most people spend a significant amount of their adult life in paid employment. Employment provides an income and the attraction of other rewards, such as status, friendship and satisfaction, although stress and frustration may be part of the actual package. The way in which work is organized, and the terms and conditions with which it is performed are critical. They influence employees’ living standards and their quality of life, and they impact upon the competitiveness of employing organisations, and the performance of the wider economy.