INTRODUCTION TO SUSPENSION OF EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT
Struggling businesses, in an effort to cut costs resorted to suspension of employment of some staff, temporal staff lay-off from employment in Cameroon or reduce salary and/or working off some of their staff.
Businesses are at liberty to take any practical steps to mitigate their losses or to stay in business in these challenging covid 19 times, however, it has to be done in accordance with the laid down labour laws and procedures in Cameroon. In view of the above, this article considers the various legal rights available to both the employer and the employee during these challenging times.
SUSPENSION OF EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT IN CAMEROON
The Cameroon Labour code especially Section 32 clearly states the conditions for suspension of employment in Cameroon in every labour relationship;
- Suspension is legal where it can be established that the departure of the employer is aimed at undertaking military service
- Suspension of employment is legal during the worker’s absence in the case of illness duly certified by a medical practitioner.
- Suspension of employment in Cameroon is legal during a period of maternity leave
- Suspension of employment in Cameroon is legal during any period of disciplinary suspension of the worker.
- Suspension of employment is legal during any period of leave for workers’ education.
- During a period of unavailability following an industrial accident or occupational disease
- By mutual consent during the exercise of political or administrative duties following an election or appointment
- During the period when the worker is under police custody
- During a period of lay-off from employment in Cameroon.
LAY-OFF FROM EMPLOYMENT IN CAMEROON
Section 32(k) of The Cameroon Labour code defines Lay-off from employment as “Lay-off shall mean the collective interruption of all or part of the work done by personnel of an undertaking due to accident or force majeure or unfavourable economic conditions. Lay-off from employment in Cameroon is one of the modes for suspension of employment contracts.
In today’s economy, unprecedented economic hardships have resulted in employers adopting legal innovative ways to sustain businesses and also keep their employees at work.
One of the steps taken by businesses is to temporarily suspend the employment of employees till the economic conditions improve.
The condition for suspension of employment on economic grounds by lay-off from employment in Cameroon must be established so it is not construed as a constructive dismissal and the period of lay-off from employment in Cameroon should not exceed 6 months.
When it becomes necessary to suspend an employment contract, it is imperative that the employer and the employee negotiate and come to a compromise. In absence of consent from the employee, it will be unlawful and unfair to suspend a person’s employment contract.
During lay-off from employment in Cameroon, employees shall not be entitled to salary/wages because salary/wages are paid only for work done. However, the employer can cut down the salary of the employees and agree to pay the employees compensation as per section 33(3) of the Cameroon Labour code. Once the employees acknowledge collecting the compensation sum, it becomes binding on them like any contract agreed upon and signed by parties.
It is very common to see organizations or corporations seek legal advice on suspension and lay-off decisions for a worker in an employment contract. Each and every situation presents its peculiar challenges. It is therefore advisable that professional advice be sought on suspension of employment and lay-off from employment to avoid any potential claim from employees who may feel they have been wrongfully sent out of work.
“The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advise should be sought about your specific circumstance”.