Working Journalists Act 2051 (1993) includes provisions for the rights, interests, convenience and security of working journalists. The aim is to develop fair journalism by encouraging promotion of their professional efficiency.
The Act authenticated and published on 2051 Falgun 29 (13 March 1993). It contains 6 chapters. The chapters and their contents are briefly described as follows:
The first chapter includes short title and commencement. It is followed by the definitions of various terms such as: ‘Communication enterprise“, Manager’, ‘Working journalist’, ‘Employee’, ‘Worker’, ‘Remuneration’, ‘Committee’, ‘Family’, ‘Press Registrar’ and ‘Prescribed’ or ‘as prescribed’.
Chapter-2 (Appointment, Security of Service and Working Hours)
This chapter of the Act includes the classification of posts, working hours and security of the working journalists.
Classification of the posts should be done by the manager. In making hierarchical classification of posts, the Manager shall do so as determined by the Committee. Manager shall supply a description containing the qualification, experience, functions, duties and powers and responsibilities required for and attached to such posts to the Press Registrar.
Manager should not engage any person for the post of working journalist without making appointment. The Manager shall fill the posts of working journalists by making selection through open competition. In making appointments on the contract basis such appointments may be made only up to 15% of the total number of working journalists engaged in the concerned enterprise.
The remuneration, provident fund and other facilities of working journalists appointed on the contract basis shall not be less than the facilities to which the working journalists engaged in the same posts in the enterprise.
After any person is appointed to the post of working journalist, the Manager shall give information to the Press Registrar who shall update the information received. In making a fresh permanent appointment, he or she shall be so appointed as required to undergo a probation period of 6 months. If his or her performance is not satisfactory during that period, his or her appointment may be voided.
The working journalist shall continue to have lien over his or her post as long as he or she continues to function in that post, while he or she is on leave, while being deputed elsewhere by the management or while he or she is under suspension. The time of work to be done by a working journalist in a week shall not exceed 48 hours, and he or she shall get 1 day of weekly leave by rotation in each week.
Every Manager shall maintain an attendance register of working journalists. The public holiday, casual and festival leave, sick leave, home leave, maternity leave, obsequies leave and leave without pay to which the working journalists are entitled shall be as prescribed.
Chapter-3 (Remuneration and Compensation)
There shall be a Minimum Remuneration Fixation Committee to make recommendation to the Government of Nepal about fixation of the minimum remuneration to which working journalists are entitled. The Committee comprises of the following members.
- A person appointed by the Government of Nepal from amongst the persons who have rendered an outstanding contribution to the field of communication -Chairperson
- Representative (Gazetted First Class), Ministry of Information and Communication -Member
- Representative (Gazetted First Class), Ministry of Labour and Transport Management-Member
- Chairperson of Nepal Journalists’ Federation -Member
- Three persons so designated by Nepal Journalists’ Federation from amongst the working journalists as to consist of at least one woman -Member
- Three persons nominated by the Government of Nepal from amongst the Managers -Member
- One person nominated by the Government of Nepal from amongst the employees or workers -Member
- One person nominated by the Government of Nepal from amongst the labour and finance experts -Member
- Press Registrar -Member secretary
The term of office of the chairperson and nominated members of the Committee shall be Two years. The functions, duties and powers of the Committee, in addition to those set forth in the Act, shall be as prescribed. Similarly, the Rules of procedures of the meeting of the Committee shall be as determined by the Committee itself.
No monthly remuneration of a working journalist shall be deducted except in accordance with this Act or the Rules framed under this Act. No monthly remuneration of a working journalist shall be withheld while he or she is on leave.
After completing one years of service period, each working journalist shall get one annul grade. If the journalist suffers injuries or grievous hurt or dies or his or her personal property is destroyed, the person shall get such treatment expenses or compensation from the enterprise.
Chapter-4 (Welfare Provisions)
The Manager shall establish a welfare fund as prescribed for the rights, interests and security of working journalists. Gratuity, provident fund and medical treatment and other facilities to which working journalists are entitled shall be as prescribed.
No change in the ownership of an enterprise shall be prejudicial to the service, conditions of service and facilities of working journalists. No alteration shall be made in the service, conditions of service and facilities of working journalists to their disadvantage.
Chapter- 5 (Retirement and Retrenchment of Positions)
The Manager may give retirement to a journalist who has completed a continuous period of service of 25 years.
If a communication enterprise’s income goes down or investment is to be reduced, the Manager may retrench the positions in that proportion, notifying the Press Registrar and the concerned working journalist in advance of 3 months.
If the Manager intends to close a communication enterprise run by him or her, he or she shall give a notice to the Press Registrar and the concerned journalists in advance of 3 months.
If any working journalist doesn’t get any facility to which he or she is entitled, he or she may make a complaint to the Press Registrar within 35 days.
Chapter-6 (Conduct, Penalties and Appeal)
Working journalists shall observe the conduct as prescribed. If the performance of any working journalist is not satisfactory or he or she commits breach of discipline, the Manager may impose ordinary punishment on him or her.
If the investigation of any punishment is to be conducted in respect of any working journalist, the Manager may suspend such a civil employee until the conclusion of the investigation.
A person who is not satisfied with punishment imposed by the Manager may make an appeal to the Labor Court established under the laws in force within 35 days.
The Government of Nepal may, by publishing a Notification in the Nepal Gazette, delegate the powers conferred to it by this Act to anybody or any office employee of the Government of Nepal.
If a communication enterprise suffers any loss or damage as a result of any act done by any working journalist, the Manager may file a lawsuit within 3 months from the date of cause of action.
The provisions in relation to the appointment, conditions of service and facilities of working journalists shall also be equally applicable to the employees and workers.
Working journalists may, subject to the laws in force in relation to trade unions, form a trade union in the communication enterprise in which they are engaged, with respect to the protection and promotion of their business and professional rights and interests.
If there arise any disputes between working journalists, employees or workers and the management of a communication enterprise, the Press Registrar may settle such disputes through various means such as negotiation, conciliation and mediation.
The Government of Nepal and communication enterprises shall arrange for study and training for the development and building of professional competency, efficiency and skills of working journalists.
Though we have this act regarding working journalist in written form, the implementation part is still weak. We have everything in paper but not in practice. Hence, it is really important that the authority focuses in implementation of these acts which, in the present context are only limited to writings. If such acts and regulations of our country are brought into practice, Nepal can indeed be a better place to live in and be proud of.