It is illegal to fire a house help without notice, court rules
By Paul Ogemba
| August 4th 2020
You have a reason to worry if you have been employing and dismissing house helps at will following a decision by the Employment and Labour Relations Court.
You also have more reason to worry if you have been making your house help to work on public holidays and weekends, not giving them leave days, sending them away without a certificate of service, and paying them a salary of less than Sh10,000.
This follows a decision by Justice Nduma Nderi that declared that it is illegal to just wake up one day and dismiss your house help without giving her a one-month notice of termination of her employment.
“It is unlawful to terminate the employment of a house help without giving her notice. It is also illegal and unfair labour practice to send a house help 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 a house help challenged her sacking by her employer for asking a salary increment. The judge awarded her a total of Sh270,964 for the unfair termination of her contract.
According to the judge, the employment laws states that you must give an employee, including a house help a one-month notice before sacking them or in the alternative pay them the equivalent of a one-month salary.
In the case, Moreen Muhani had sued her employer Namuben Manji Bhinji for terminating her contract without a valid reason.
Muhani claimed that she was employed by Bhinji as a house girl 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 ruling 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 house girl did not contribute to the termination of her job. She was underpaid and was victimized for asserting her right for salary increment,” ruled Nderi.
According to the judge, the law requires that you must give notice to your house help whenever you want to terminate their contract, pay them terminal benefits and give them certificate of service when you part ways.
Justice Nderi ruled that the Employment Act states that the minimum salary for a house help should be Sh10,107 and that the employer should enroll her to 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 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.
In total, Justice Nderi ordered Bhinji to pay her former house girl Sh270,964 including interest from the time of judgment and to provide Muhanji with a certificate of service within 30 days.
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