Labour Court awards house-help Sh267,864 for unfair dismissal

NAIROBI, KENYA: Employment and labor Relations court in Nairobi has awarded a house help Sh267,864 for unfair termination of her employment.

Irene Atieno had worked as a house help for 12 years at the home of Henry De’ Souza and Annete  De Souza who were the respondents in the matter.

She moved to court on August 8,2011 claiming salary underpayment from 2004 to May 2011, severance pay, accrued leave for one year 30 days, Sunday and public holidays worked plus compensation for unfair termination totaling to Sh648,007.25.

Annete De’ Souza filed defense on Septembers 18, 2011 alleging that the house help was not her regular employee and denied the allegation that she worked continuously from May 2, 1999 to May 1, 2011. She therefore denied the alleged underpayment and claim for unfair termination.

The suit was heard on February 21, 2018 when Atieno testified but the De’ Souza called no witness. Thereafter both parties filed written submissions.

Atieno testified that she was employed by De’ Souza as a House Help in 1999 and worked for 12 years.

“I was paid a salary of Sh 3, 000 per month which was later increased to Sh 6,000,”she said.

She further testified that in 2011 she demanded for salary increment as a result of which she was dismissed.

“I sued to sign a book to receive my salary which was retained by the employer,” said Atieno.

 She further stated that she was never paid the salary for the last month of her service. She therefore prayed for the outstanding salary, service pay and other terminal dues.

Atieno contended that she was dismissed on May 1, 2011 by the Henry De’ Sousa for demanding a salary increment.

She contended that she used to be paid on the 5th day of the following month as such the dismissal came before receiving her salary for April 2011.The respondents never testified in the case.

 “Consequently, I find that the claimant has proved on a balance of probability that she worked continuously as a House Help until she was summarily dismissed from employment on May 1,2011 for demanding better pay,” ruled Judge Onesmus Makau

The judge said the termination was not justified and it was done without following due process and that rendered the termination unfair within the meaning of section 45 of the Employment Act.

The judge ruled that under section 49 of the Act, he is awarded 12 months’ salary being compensation for the unfair termination considering her 12 years of continuous service.