IN THE INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS COURT OF MALAWI
MATTER NO. IRC PR 180 OF 2006
IPONGA SUPERMARKETS .. .. RESPONDENT
- CORAM: R. ZIBELU BANDA (Ms); CHAIRPERSON
- Malijani; Employers Panellist
- Kajombo; Employees Panellist
- Applicant ; Present
- Respondent; Absent no excuse
- Gowa; Official Interpreter
Dismissal-Reason-Employer to provide reason-Reason to be valid
Burden of proof-Employer bears of burden of proof in dismissal cases-Employer to show reason and justify it
Procedure-Hearing-Employer to provide employee with opportunity to be heard
The applicant was employed on 8 March 2000. She was dismissed on 19 April 2006. She gave evidence that she reported for late for work. She was late by 10 minutes. She was late because she had transport problems. She tried to talk to her boss that she had a valid reason for reporting late. However the plea fell on deaf ears. She told court that this was not the first time she had reported late for duties. She however felt that the dismissal was unfair and she claimed compensation for unfair dismissal, lunch allowance and transport allowance. The respondent did not attend court. A notice of hearing was sent to them. In the absence any reason for failure to attend court, the court invoked the provisions of section 74 of the Labour Relations Act and proceeded to hear the applicant.
In any claim or complaint arising out of the dismissal of an employee, it shall be for the employer to provide the reason for dismissal and if the employer fails to do so, there shall be a conclusive presumption that the dismissal was unfair, see section 61 of the Employment Act. In this matter the court heard that the applicant was late for duties. The respondent did not attend court to show court whether, how and why this was an act of serious misconduct warranting the extreme punishment of dismissal. The respondent did not show court whether the applicant had been warned before for similar misconduct. The respondent did not show court whether the act of the applicant was done deliberately or indeed she had a valid reason for reporting late. The respondent was not present to contradict the applicants evidence that her late reporting for work was due to a valid reason concerning transport problem.
The court finds that the respondent contravened the law of employment. They did not give the applicant a valid reason for dismissal when it was their responsibility to do so. They did not show court the main reason for dismissal and justification as required by section 57(1) of the Employment Act.
The applicant had worked for six years. She is therefore entitled to compensation for unfair dismissal to be assessed. She is also entitled to severance allowance if it was not paid; lunch allowance and transport allowance for the notice period. A notice of assessment of compensation and allowances shall be issued in due course. Both parties shall be required to attend the assessment.
Any party dissatisfied with this decision is at liberty to appeal to the High Court in accordance with the provisions of section 65 of the Labour Relations Act.
Pronounced this day 30th day of January, 2008 at BLANTYRE.
Rachel Zibelu Banda
Nick Chifundo Kajombo