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Househelps can’t be fired without notice, judge rules

Readers Lounge - By Paul Ogemba | August 5th 2020 at 08:30:03 GMT +0300
The judge declared that it is illegal to just wake up one day and dismiss your househelp (Photo: Shutterstock)

You have a reason to worry if you have been employing and dismissing househelps at will.

You also have more reason to worry if your house help has been working on public holidays and weekends, not getting leave days, getting fired without a certificate of service and earning less than Sh10,000 per month.

This follows a decision by Justice Nduma Nderi of the Employment and Labour Relations Court, which declared that it is illegal to just wake up one day and dismiss your househelp without giving her a one-month notice of termination of her employment.

“It is unlawful to terminate the employment of a househelp without giving her notice. It is also illegal and unfair labour practice to send a househelp away without paying her any terminal benefits and not giving her certificate of service,” ruled Nderi.

Justice Nderi made the decision in a case in which Moreen Muhani challenged her sacking by her employer for asking for a salary increment. The judge awarded her Sh270,964 for the unfair termination of her contract.

According to the judge, employment laws state that you must give an employee, including a househelp, one-month notice before sacking them or in the alternative pay them the equivalent of a one-month salary.

You should give your househelp one month notice before sacking them (Photo: Shutterstock)

In the case, Moreen Muhani had sued her employer Namuben Manji Bhinji for terminating her contract without a valid reason.

Muhani claimed she was employed by Bhinji as a househelp in February 2015 with a monthly salary of Sh3,000.

After two years of working, Muhani said she approached her employer on December 30, 2016 and requested for a salary increment. She stated that instead of listening to her request, Bhinji got annoyed, terminated the contract and sent her away the next day.

She then filed the case, claiming that her job was terminated without notice for no good reason and asked the court for compensation.

Justice Nderi agreed with her claims and ruled that the termination of employment was for no valid reason and that the employer did not follow a fair procedure in terminating her employment.

“The employer violated sections 36,41,43 and 45 of the Employment Act 2007 and the claimant is entitled to compensation. I find that the househelp did not contribute to the termination of her job. She was underpaid and was victimised for asserting her right for salary increment,” ruled Nderi.

The judge ruled that the Employment Act states that the minimum salary for a househelp should be Sh10,107 and that the employer should enrol her to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and provide her with the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) card.

He awarded Muhani Sh206,953 as compensation for the two years she was underpaid, adding that the house girl was entitled to one a month-leave every year worked and awarded her Sh20,107 as two months’ salary for the two years she worked without going on leave.

The judge further awarded her Sh13,473 for the public holidays worked without rest and Sh10,107 being the minimum one-month salary she should have been paid in lieu of notice to terminate her contract.

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