Stop suspending employees without pay, Court orders

Blantyre: Chairperson of the Industrial Relations Court, Chimwemwe Kamowa has asked companies in the country to stop suspending people without pay, saying the International Labor Laws highly speaks against the act.

Speaking to Malawi News Agency (Mana), on Thursday, Kamowa said many companies in the country were in the habit of suspending employees without a salary which she described as wrong because suspension itself was enough punishment for an offence.

The Malawi Employment Act is very quiet on suspension and because of that, companies take advantage to punish offenders by not giving them their salaries. Yes, at the moment we are using the conditions of service as reference when handling labour cases but I would have loved if we adopted the International Labour Laws that promote suspension with pay, Kamowa said.

I am in support of these International Labour Laws because when you suspend someone, it means you are not sure of the offence committed until such a time when he or she is proven guilty. Therefore, a full salary must be paid if not, half-down for survival, she added.

Kamowa said the trend in Malawi has been that labour cases take long to be concluded with as long as eight or nine years at time, noting that with stipulated conditions of service, companies choose not to give salaries to suspended employees and that in rare circumstances the half down salaries are paid.

Meanwhile, Kamowa has appealed to organizations like the Labour Rights Organization (LARO) to promote and advocate for best labour practices.

Blantyre District Labour Officer, Frank Adini concurred with Kamowa that cases of firing employees without pay were increasing in the country, noting the conduct was unlawful such that sometimes it is out of ignorance of the law by companies or the human resource managers.

The law provides that only where a person is involved in fraud and financial misappropriation is when he or she can be suspended without pay because paying him or her would increase liability, said Adini.

National Insurance Company (NICO) General Insurance Human Resource and Administration Manager, Gregory Nampota while supporting the need for companies to adopt the suspension with pay said the company was already practicing the law, challenging that the company has had no legal battles with its employees.

The challenge we have is that we already have preconceived judgment when suspending someone thereby not giving an employee any salary. This is wrong and that’s why as NICO, apart from practicing the laws, we make sure that employees have access to policies, regulations and strategies to acquaint themselves with such statutes, Napota said.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA

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