NATION

Employers Have Right to Decide When to Close Business: Tribunal

Employers should have the right to decide when to close their business and that should be differentiated from a situation where redundancy is contemplated, says the Chief Tribunal of the
27 Feb 2017 14:50
Employers Have Right to Decide When to Close Business: Tribunal
Damodaran Nair

Employers should have the right to decide when to close their business and that should be differentiated from a situation where redundancy is contemplated, says the Chief Tribunal of the Employment Relations Tribunal.

Sainivalati Kuruduadua made the remarks in a case where two female employees had claimed unfair dismissal.

The women, Ashilta Shonika Lata and Shazleen Ali had worked for Giaan Enterprise Limited for different periods.

Both were laid off on July 23, 2016. Lata started work from November 29, 2014 until January 23, 2016.

Ali worked from July 23, 2013 to January 23, 2016. They were not terminated as such but the shop in which they were working was closed on January 23, 2016 and all the workers were advised on Friday, January 22, 2016 about it.

“The Tribunal feels that the grievance here is the short notice given which made it virtually impossible for these workers to find alternative employment to cater for their livelihood,” Mr Kuruduadua said.

The employer initially refused to give reference but eventually handed it over to them.

Mr Kuruduadua said: “I did not see any employment contract but in the written submissions, counsel for the grievors mentioned that they were engaged on a fixed term contracts ending on February 31, 2015.

“The contracts also have the express provision that either party has the right to terminate that contract by giving the other party one week’s notice.”

Upon the expiry of the contracts both grievors continued with employment until January 22, 2016 as the shop was closed on January 23, 2016.

They were paid the wages for the extra days worked on January 23, 2016 and were issued their discharge and reference letters, together with a week’s pay each, in lieu of notice. The grievors’ contracts ended on December, 31, 2015 but they were asked to work for another 22 days and were paid for it. That should not give rise to any presumption that both contracts had been renewed as it was made clear to them by management that the extension was for the sole purpose of completing a unfinished task.

The situations faced by the two grievors are adequately covered by sections 29 and 30 of the Employment Relations Promulgation 2007 dealing with the provisions of notice and termination of contracts which the employer had fully complied with.

Applying the law to the grievors, the Tribunal holds the view that the grievors were employed on a fixed term contract and upon expiry they were asked to stay for an additional 22 days for which they were paid before the termination by the payment one week’s wages in lieu of notice.

Mr Kuruduadua said: “I cannot find sufficient evidence to ground a claim for unfair dismissal and in that case the employment grievances filed by Ashilta Lata and Shazleen Alithe are wholly struck out.”

There are no orders as to costs.

The employer was represented by Damodaran Nair and grievors represented by Lanieta Mataigusu.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback:  ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj



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