According to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate spiked to 94 percent in 2009. Industrial capacity utilisation in the same year stood at between 20% and 30%. Such an environment is conducive for unfair labour practices.
Make sure you know the laws surrounding dismissal.
What is a contract of employment?
According to the Labour Act, every person who is employed by or working for any other person and receiving or entitled to receive any remuneration in respect of such employment or work will be deemed to be under a contract of employment with that other person, whether such contract is reduced to writing or not.
A contract of employment that does not specify the date of termination, other than a contract for casual work, seasonal work or for the performance of some specific service, is deemed to be an indefinite contract.
However, in the case of a casual worker, such a provision is contingent upon the fact that he/she is deemed to have become an employee on a contract without limit of time on the day that his/her period of engagement with a particular employer exceeds a total of six weeks in any four consecutive months.
Termination of employment
According to the Code of Conduct, a contract of employment can be terminated if the employer and employee mutually agree on it in writing.
The contract of employment is not terminated on the death of the employer but continues to have effect until the expiration of the period after which it would have been terminated had due notice of termination been given on the day the employer died.
Moreover, the employee is entitled to all benefits and wages provided for in the employment contract from the person legally representing the deceased employer in his/her capacity.
Every employee has the right not to be unfairly dismissed. An employee is deemed to have been unfairly dismissed on the following grounds:
- Where the employee terminated the contract of employment with or without notice because the employer made continued employment intolerable for the employee
- If on termination of a fixed-term contract, the employee had a legitimate expectation of being re-engaged and another person was engaged instead of the employee
An employer may terminate the employment of an employee for a serious misconduct, after an investigation within 14 working days and by serving notice in writing where the latter commits any of the following offences:
- Any act, conduct or omission inconsistent with the fulfillment of the express or implied conditions of his/her contract
- Willful disobedience
- Willful destruction of employer’s property
- Theft or fraud
- Absence from work for a period of five or more working days without leave or reasonable cause in a year
- Gross incompetence, inefficiency, or habitual and substantial negligence in performance of his/her work and duties
- Lack of a skill, which was expressly or implicitly stated by the employee as possessing for the work
Notice periods and payment
The Labour Act lays down mandatory periods of notice or payment in lieu of notice to be given by the employer for terminating employment in the absence of any longer period stated in an individual contract of employment. As such the notice of termination of employment to be given by either party must be:
- Three months for an indefinite contract or a fixed-term contract of two years or more
- Two months in the case of a fixed-term contract of one year but less than two years
- One month in the case of a short-term contract of six months or more but less than one year
- Two weeks in the case of a short-term contract of three months or more but less than six months
- One day’s notice in the case of a short-term contract for a period of less than three months or in the case of casual/seasonal work
Appeal against Unfair Dismissal
The Labour Officers are in charge of conciliation of employment-related disputes and unfair labour practices. Either party to the determination of a termination of employment matter may appeal to the Labour Court. Where termination of employment has occurred on discriminatory grounds, the ordinary courts of law also have jurisdiction to order damages. An employer who discriminates against the employee is also liable for a fine or imprisonment not exceeding two years.
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