Understanding the Law
March 2, 2007
Protection of employment act Pt:2

Last week we looked at the above named act and in particular termination for good cause, disciplinary actions and terms and conditions of employment. This week we would extend our knowledge to other aspects of the Act.

Termination of Services

Your employer could terminate your services on his own or he could do so with the approval of the Labour Commissioner. Your employer could terminate your services for good cause, that is, where it would be unreasonable to expect the employment relationship to continue as in misconduct and especially repeated misconduct, unsatisfactory performance, criminal act and lack of qualification to perform the kind of work that you are performing. Other disputes could be taken to the Labour Commission by way of a petition.{{more}}

After an employer makes a petition to the Labour Commissioner, he must notify the employee about the charge against him. The Commissioner must then make enquiry into the matter which may include allowing the employee to make his defence. He may be represented if he so desires.

Termination for illness

You may be terminated for illness if your illness has been for a protracted period of six months and is likely to be permanent. However, a medical practitioner must certify that you are incapable of performing because of physical and/or mental illness. You would be deemed eligible for severance but you must have served for not less than two years in a specific job.

Termination on grounds of Redundancy

Your employment may be terminated on this basis because for some reasons, as would be discussed, the employer has to reduce his work force or let all employees go. In some cases the employer has decided to modernize or reorganize his business. Where he introduces modern machines,employees who performed manual tasks before may have to go unless they could be absorbed elsewhere in the business. Where existing workers are not trained to meet the needs of the new condition the employees could become redundant. If the employer sells his business or part thereof, unless there is some arrangement with the new owner to employ the existing workers, the employer could make his workers redundant.

Further redundancy may become necessary where it is impossible or impractical to continue the business because of a breakdown of equipment, an act of God and shortage of materials. It may also become necessary if there is a change in the economic conditions in which the business operates. The employee is usually eligible for severance if he has been in the job for not less than two years.

If the employer has rebounded within three months of the redundancy terminations and seeks to employ persons in the jobs that had become redundant he must first make an offer to employees who were made redundant if those persons are still available.

For an employer to terminate the services of at least five persons on the basis of redundancy, he must inform the trade union to which the employees belong at least one month before the terminations. If the employees do not belong to a trade union then his representative or the Labour Commissioner must be informed in writing. He must give the reasons and the circumstances necessitating the termination. Information about the category of workers affected and the time when termination would be effected must also be given.

• Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
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