- 24 AUG
A Commentary on the Labour Amendment Bill of 2015
By Vusumuzi Bhebbhe (final year LLB student- Midlands State University in collaboration with DBN research team).
Issues to be addressed:
1. The case of Nyamande and Anor v Zuva Petroleum (Pvt) Ltd SC-43-15
2. Whether the Labour Amendment Bill of 2015 has retrospective application
3. Possible court challenges to the Labour Amendment Bill of 2015
THE NYAMANDE V ZUVA PETROLEUM CASE
This case has generated much tension in Zimbabwe and most importantly has generated much debate amongst practicing lawyers, academics and law students. The decision by the chief justice did not make any new law but was rather rehashing of principles that already existed. As the Chief Justice said, the right to terminate an employee’s contract on notice by the employer has always existed in our law. It is important to note that the words dismissal and termination should never be used interchangeably as they are not synonymous..
Employers have the right to terminate a contract of employment provided they follow the provisions of section 12 (4) of the Labour Act (Chapter 28:01) which provides as follows:-
Except where a longer period of notice has been provided for under a contract of employment or in any relevantenactment,andsubjecttosubsections (5), (6) and (7),noticeofterminationofthecontractof employment to be given by either party shall be— (a) three months in the case of a contract without limit of time or a contract for a period of two years or more; (b) two months in the case of a contract for a period of one year or more but less than two years; (c) one month in the case of a contract for a period of six months or more but less than one year; (d) two weeks in the case of a contract for a period of three months or more but less than six months; (e) one day in the case of a contract for a period of less than three months or in the case of casual work or seasonal work.
As was held by the Chief Justice, this provision does not guarantee the right to terminate employment on notice on the employer but it simply regulates how a common law right that is vested in the employer (and also the employee) can be exercised. It is unfortunate that this confirmation of the existing law has led to wide spread job losses by many employees. The issue that one has to worry about is whether this position is in line with our Constitution or not, which will be addressed later in this article.