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Court rules it’s illegal to have employees work on overtime without pay


 

A court has ruled that it is illegal to have employees work overtime without monetary compensation.

Employment and Labour Relations Court Judge Linnet Ndolo also ruled it is unlawful to punish an employee who declines to work for unpaid extra hours.

The decision arose in a case filed by former money printing firm, De La Rue employee Daniel Njuguna, who was sacked for failing to work on a weekend with no pay.

At the same time, the judge awarded Mr Njuguna Sh2.36 million for the unfair termination.

“The logical conclusion is that since the instruction to work overtime without monetary compensation was itself unlawful, no charge based on it could stand. There was therefore no reason for the termination of the claimant’s employment and the ensuing disciplinary process had no leg to stand on,” Justice Ndolo ruled.

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Njuguna was employed by the firm in 1993 as a cleaner. He worked hard, rising to the position of print supervisor, earning at least Sh180,000 a month.

The man told the court that he earned overtime pay for work done beyond normal working hours but it was discontinued in December 2013 and the head of operations notified him that he was to work for extra hours minus pay.

He stayed away from work and it led to his dismissal.

“It is the claimant’s case that the termination of his employment was unlawful and unfair,” the judge was told.

In reply, the firm told the court that employees were notified that there would no longer be overtime pay and that work done outside the normal working hours would be compensated by time off.

De Ra Lue explained Njuguna was required to work for two days in November 2014 but he failed to show up. They were on a weekend.

“The claimant failed to attend work as instructed and was, therefore, issued with a show cause letter dated November 28, 2013 to which he responded on December 2, 2013,” it explained.

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According to the firm, Njuguna admitted he did not show up at work after discovering that he would earn nothing.

A dismissal letter by De La Rue’s head of operations David Hepple read that Njuguna wilfully neglected to perform his work, leading to summary dismissal. 

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