Delayed payment of salaries and for work done is a form of corruption

Over the weekend, I discussed with a friend and colleague how delayed payments of salaries and for work done is really crippling the working class in Uganda. Moreover, it is not necessarily always the case that the delay in payment is because the bosses don’t have the money to make payroll. More often than not the bosses simply make workers feel as though they are beggars and the bosses are doing them a favour.

People go without pay for months. Which raises the question: how are they supposed to pay their bills – rent, school fees, medicare and buy food and other necessities? How are they expected to plan for their salaries with an uncertain cash flow. In the end, people are forced to borrow and by the time the salaries or payments for work done come, they are heavily indebted already and so it is used to clear debts.

By the way, for example, for some consultancy jobs the consultant puts in their own money to do the job, in the hope that as soon as they do the job they will get paid and then they could replace the money they have borrowed from the business. But in some cases the consultant is not paid for months; meaning that those for whom they did the work are holding the consultant’s capital at ransom. For some businesses, this has been the reason that they collapse.

Please know that this is not only the case in the private for profit sector. This is also the case in the not-for-profit sector. I know of colleagues who have sworn not to do work for the not-for-profit sector unless they are paid the full amount upfront. The situation is seemingly worse when the work is done for a Ugandan organisation, but the payment requires approval from “the donor”. Thus, in some cases, creating opportunities for individuals in “the donor” organisation to abuse their power.

What recourse do we have when we feel that our bosses have unduly withheld payment of our salaries? Particularly when we know the money is there and it is not the case that there is no money. What recourse do we have as consultants when those for whom we have done work overly delay to pay us for work done? What are the laws that are in place that protect Uganda’s working class with regards to timely payment of wages and salaries? And what are the laws that protect lowly consultants?

These and many more questions such as these need to be looked into and answering. Otherwise, it is an area where corruption is seemingly thriving.

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