BONU Prevails against Gov’t in Call to Duty Case

  • Court says gov’t has not been compliant with Employment Act.
  • Rules that Call to Duty constitutes working time and should be paid for


The Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) has emerged victorious in a case in which it wanted the government to discontinue Call to Duty or any arrangement in which nurses and midwives are expected to report for duty beyond their working hours.
Delivering his ruling on Monday, Justice Galesite Baruti of the Francistown Industrial Court agreed with the union’s argument that the employer has not been in compliance with the Employment Act.
Justice Baruti ruled that any time that a nurse or a midwife is rostered to be on-call constitutes working time and must therefore be paid accordingly.
Further, the time during which a nurse or a midwife accompanies a patient on referral from one medical facility to another and back constitutes working time for which he or she must be paid for, otherwise the arrangement defies the Employment Act.
“The employer shall, when computing overtime entitlement for the employees, take into account the time they were rostered and shall fully comply with Section 95(5) of the Employment Act,” said the judge. “Where the overtime worked exceeds the 30 percent commuted overtime allowance, the employees so entitled shall be paid the excess after the overtime has been calculated using the formula stipulated at Section 95(5) of the Employment Act.”
In their argument before court, BONU had submitted that Call to Duty is illegal, encroaches on its members’ rest period and is therefore an arrangement of abuse.
In addition, BONU argued that sometimes the nurses or midwives are forced to travel with patients and help them beyond the stipulated working hours of public servants.