EMPLOYERS have resolved to partner Wintertons Legal Practitioners to fight cases of compensation demands by workers fired for misconduct.
BY KUDZAI KUWAZA
Section 12 of the Labour Amendment Act Number 5 of 2015 entitles workers who have been dismissed to receive compensation, which includes notice pay.
Speaking at an Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) meeting yesterday, Wintertons lawyer and head of the law firm’s labour department, Ruvimbo Matsika said employers cannot compensate a worker who has been dismissed over misconduct because there is no notice given in such instances.
Workers are compensated when a termination notice has been issued to them by the employer according to the Labour Act, she said.
“Can you say that an employee whose contract has been terminated through a letter of dismissal be given notice of termination? That is the crucial question here,” Matsika said. “You cannot equate a letter of dismissal to a notice of termination and if you cannot equate a letter of dismissal to a notice of termination it means that you cannot oblige an employer who has terminated an employee through dismissal to pay the employee a termination package.”
She said the clause that determines dismissals and that which determines retrenchment were different.
Matsika said the 50-page Constitutional Court ruling by Chief Justice Luke Malaba last week obliging employers to compensate those they dismissed on three months’ notice three years ago, also supported the non-payment of retrenchment packages to workers dismissed over misconduct.
“It is a recognised principle of labour relations reflective of social justice that when employment is terminated for reasons other than misconduct, compensation for long service rendered is paid,” Malaba said in his ruling.
“The comments which the Chief Justice made in the case could aid in arguing similar claims in the future,” Matsika said.
In a speech read on his behalf, Emcoz president, Matthew Chimbghandah said the partnership with Wintertons has been necessitated by the increase in the number of dismissed workers demanding compensation.
“Of late there has been an increase in claims of compensation in terms of section 12(4a) as read with section 12(4b) of the Labour Act (Chapter 28:01) by employees who have been dismissed for misconduct,” Chimbghandah said. “The Tripartite Negotiating Forum agreed as early as 2016 that this anomaly needed to be corrected but up to this moment the Amendment Bill to correct this and other anomalies is still with the Attorney General’s office.”
He said workers dismissed over misconduct were taking advantage of the flaw in the piece of legislation, which he described as “reprehensible”.