Normalise culture of mutual job termination

21 May, 2023 - 00:05 0 Views

The Sunday Mail

ONE of the things most employers struggle with is the art of parting ways with an employee, regardless of their rank.

I am a lawyer by training and law is what I actually do between 8am and 5pm.

I also enjoy human capital development and I have had the privilege of working with quite a number of organisations in this field.

All this has exposed me to a lot of experiences, particularly on how people get emotionally attached to their jobs.

At the same time, there are also employers who get too personal that they want to terminate an employment contract at any cost.

This culture is most likely costly, in terms of both time and resources, for both the company and the employee concerned.

Don’t be emotionally attached

For the record, I do not support any unfair labour practices that may be perpetrated by any party.

I want to see the parties respecting the law.

I also appreciate a situation where they ensure the fundamental rights enshrined in the law are protected. I have noticed from experience that many people are, however, too invested in their jobs, and get emotionally attached to them.

I want to help you release emotions from your job.

You may also want to read one of my latest books — “Toys for Adults”.

This will prove useful in the near future.

Some people even get so emotionally attached to their physical offices that they will never entertain the idea that someone wants to move into that particular space or they are being requested to shift to another office.

I have even heard of cases where some people used juju to stay in a particular office.

Whilst I do not intend to impeach your beliefs, but going to this extent speaks of the serious level of help that you need.

Contract will be terminated one day

This is the reality employees need to bear in mind — a contract of employment is the foundational document for the relationship between an employer and an employee. This same contract, regardless of its duration, can be terminated.

The termination is for a variety of reasons; it depends on the facts for a particular case.

I have seen permanent contracts being terminated for people who have worked for an organisation for over a decade or more.

I have seen people’s contracts being terminated weeks into employment after leaving well-paying jobs elsewhere. Most times, there will be fights between the employer and the employee, with some of them having existed for decades. In this inflationary environment, even what the employee will be claiming as back pay will not make economic sense.

What is my point?

When you secure formal employment, always bear in mind that one day that job is going to end, whether fairly or unfairly.

This is the reality of life, so get used to it.

Politics at work is real.

The average person only looks at the law that governs contracts of employment, but fails to pay attention to workplace politics.

This may be difficult to appreciate until you have experienced it.

But politics is very real.

People are hired and fired on golf courses. People are framed, charged and fired on baseless allegations.

There are employers who are prepared to pay lawyers than to pay you.

Once you begin to understand these things, you will begin to appreciate that it is very important to be smart about the fights you decide to pick.

At the golf course, when decisions are made, we need to be clear about why the contract is to be terminated.

The why often determines how the contract is to be terminated. One of the things employees often miss is that, with a change of management, in one way or the other, there will be change in terms of the individuals they want to play with.

This is normal, and it happens for a variety of reasons, which are beyond the scope of this particular article.

You may have seen this by now.

People who were perceived to be loyal to the previous CEO or managing director are often purged through disciplinary hearings, often to pave the way for a new team.

In some instances, your replacement will actually be in the vicinity, waiting to take over your job.

If you are not able to read the politics, you may walk into a setup that is already complete with a predictable result. You need to be wise if you are an employee.

Do not abuse disciplinary hearings

An employer has the right to discipline employees. However, the employer has no right to abuse employees through a process disguised as a disciplinary hearing. Employers should not abuse disciplinary hearings simply to part ways with an employee.

There are better ways of severing ties with an employee.

There are instances where evidence is really overwhelming and there is a clear-cut case of misconduct.

A hearing is warranted, and not instances where management is no longer interested in working with a particular employee.

This also requires employees to be aware of the point I am making here, that you should not be emotionally attached to your job or an office, because one day, you will have to leave that particular job and office, not because you are physically dead, but because you are dead in someone’s mind.

They are no longer interested in you.

The reality is that people fall in favour and also fall out of favour.

There is a season for everything.

At one point, you can be the darling of the management and at another, you will be a persona non grata.

Once you appreciate this as an employee, you also need to weigh your available options in terms of the law, which can see the contract being terminated in a less antagonistic way possible, and recover any terminal benefits you can get as a package. Life has to continue.

Terminate contract on mutually agreeable terms

There is need to normalise a culture of mutual termination.

It is better to terminate a contract on mutually agreeable terms.

This way, there is certainty for everyone. This requires a great deal of objectivity between the employer and employee concerned. Most employers will go through the hearing because they simply want to set a “precedent”.

Have you ever imagined if you end up setting an expensive precedent?

Mutual terminations are even better when you are dealing with senior management staff.

Some of the litigation you find will end bordering on either ignorance or arrogance. However, either of them is definitely expensive.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The material contained in this article is set out in good faith for general guidance in the spirit of raising legal awareness on topical interests that affect most people on a daily basis. They are not meant to create an attorney-client relationship or constitute solicitation. No liability can be accepted for loss or expense incurred as a result of relying in particular circumstances on statements made in the article. Laws and regulations are complex and liable to change, and readers should check the current position with the relevant authorities before making personal arrangements.

Arthur Marara is a corporate law attorney practising law in Harare. He is also a notary public and conveyancer. He is passionate about labour law, commercial law, family law and promoting legal awareness and access to justice. He writes in his personal capacity. You can follow him on social media (Facebook Attorney Arthur Marara), or WhatsApp him on +263780055152 or email [email protected]


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