The government has taken an initiative to enact a labour law for ‘knowledge workers’ as the existing laws could not protect the interest of people who work at knowledge-based industry like ICT.
Labour ministry has recently formed a 13-member committee headed by its additional secretary (labour) comprised with the representatives from Information and Communication Technology Division and Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services to prepare a draft of the new law act for ‘knowledge workers’.
In a gazette notification issued on March 24, the ministry asked the committee to submit the draft of the act to the labour secretary within six months.
‘The Prime Minister’s Office has instructed ministries concerned to draft a law for the knowledge workers as many provisions of the existing labour laws do not match the people working in different sectors like ICT sector,’ ICT minister Mustafa Jabbar told New Age on Saturday.
For example, he said, the traditional labour laws were not applicable for an ICT worker who developed software as his or her work was not physical but knowledge-based and it was related with the intellectual property rights.
‘As per the traditional labour laws, physical presence of a worker is mandatory in any establishment but this provision cannot be applicable for an ICT worker as he can work for America from his
Dhaka office,’ Jabbar explained.
The ICT minister said labour ministry was responsible for enacting labour laws and if it sought cooperation, the ICT ministry would extend support to prepare the draft.
According to the government officials, the decision for drafting labour act for the knowledge workers was taken at the eighth meeting of the executive committee of digital task force, presided over by the principle secretary to the prime minister Md Nojibur Rahman on July 10, 2018.
The meeting discussed that in the digital era, the physical work and knowledge work were not equal and a single law could not be applicable for all type of workers.
The growth of the ICT sector was being hindered due to lack of proper laws and many enterprises were facing troubles to comply with the existing labour laws, the meeting discussed.
It said that knowledge-based workers were also deprived of their required benefits due to lack of proper laws.
Labour ministry additional secretary Md Rezaul Haque said that the ministry has just formed the committee and it would start its work from next week through a meeting.
BASIS secretary Hashim Ahmed said that formulating a labour act for knowledge workers was a longstanding demand from the ICT sector.
‘During the last amendment of labour act, we proposed the government to include a chapter in the act for the knowledge workers and the government assured that it would be enacted separately,’ he said.