Usamate stresses importance of employment contracts

Employment Minister Jone Usamate speaks at a public consultation in the Northern Division. Picture: SUPPLIED

FIJI’S Employment Minister Jone Usamate has stressed the importance of having employment contracts to protect both the employer and employee.

He said having employment contracts as it regulates the behaviour of the employee in the workplace.

Mr Usamate highlighted this after clarifying issues related to workers who abscond their duties and were owing to employer in respect of wages or benefits.

Responding to queries during a public consultation in the Northern Division, Mr Usamate made it clear that a worker who owes money to the employer in respect of wages or benefits in kind received in advance and leaves the service of the employer with the intent of not returning and where it appears that the worker intended to defraud the employer commits an offence.

He said the worker will be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5000, or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years or both.

Mr Usamate was responding to a query raised by Labasa Chamber of Commerce president Satish Kumar.

Mr Kumar had queried on actions that the employer could take if an employee decided not to return to work after exhausting the maternity leave entitlement.

An employment contract is a binding agreement between an employer and employee and generally addresses important aspects of employment such as wages, benefits, duties and responsibilities of employee and employer and other issues relating to the terms and conditions of employment.

“Oral contracts apply to a worker who will be employed for a month and written contract applies to a worker who will be employed for more than a month,” Mr Usamate said.

Mr Usamate also emphasised that the ministry protects and looks after the interests of both workers and employers.

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