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Employment Law & COVID-19

posted 4 years ago

With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, teleworking has been the most recommended type of working by employers to ensure continuity in workflow. Some have resolved to laying off non-essential staff as a preventive measure in order to reduce expenses and avoid their business entering a state of corporate comatose. In view of the above, this brief questionnaire is to address what legally constitutes laying off and its implications on employees in accordance with the provisions of the Cameroonian labour code(1).

1. What is laying off?

It is a temporal cessation of work (complete or partial) of a set of employees following the instruction of their employer. It is applicable to a set of employees in a company, e.g. employees of a particular department, branch, category, etc. and not to an individual employee(2).

2. What are the circumstances under which an employer can decide to lay off his or her employees?

– Fatal accident;
– Force majeure;
– Unfavorable economic situation(3).

Apart from the above, no other circumstances can lead to laying off employees. It is worth noting that the circumstances mentioned must be independent of the employee or employer’s performance or attitude. It is generally rooted in the economic or financial health of the employer.

3. Can COVID-19 be associated with any of the above circumstances? 

Yes. COVID-19 can be identified as a force majeure.

4. How long can an employee be laid off?

Lay off shall not exceed six (06) months.

5. What are the legal implications of an employee being laid off?

Any employee laid off shall have his or her contract of employment suspended during the said period. This means the person is still considered an employee despite the suspension of the employment contract. The employee will regain their position where the company decides to resume its activities on or before the six-month duration period. However, if the company is unable to resume its activities after the said duration, the employee’s contract will be terminated based on economic grounds.

6. Are employees to receive any remuneration despite being laid off?

According to the applicable law, the employees laid off shall be entitled to the following:
– 50% salary for the first month;
– 40% salary for the second month;
– 35% salary for the third month;
– 30% salary for the fourth month;
– 25% salary for the fifth month;
– 20% salary for the sixth month.

The salary to be considered when calculating the above compensation shall be the employee’s basic salary + seniority allowance where applicable(4).

Footnotes

(1) The 1997 Labour Code is the grundnorm governing employer/employee relationships in Cameroon. Any subsequent instrument governing such relationships cannot be adverse to the sacrosanct provisions of this code
(2) Article 32(K) of the Labour Code
(3) Idem
(4) Article 2 of Decree n°001/CAB/MTPS of February 14, 1995, fixing the compensation to be paid to employees laid off

The above questionnaire is meant for general information only and does not constitute any legal advice. For any inquiries on the above, please contact us at [email protected] or visit www.citadellawfirm.cm

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