By Advocate Ammara Farooq Malik. For your specific legal query, please reach out to our Key Contact Advocate Mrs. Ammara Farooq Malik
While advising a company, we may be faced with advising a company on modes of termination of employment of services where an employee has been found to have conducted fraudulent activities. The question would be, can such an employee be relieved of his services immediately without any prior notice period and can he/she take any legal action against the company?
If an employee is aggrieved by an order or notice of termination, again as before, we will need to discuss the two categories of employees separately:
In case of a workman, he or she may proceed under Section 33 of the Punjab Industrial Relations Act 2010 and under section 12 of the Industrial and Commercial Employment (Standing Orders) Ordinance 1968, aimed at regulating the labour-management relations in the country, and bring his or her grievance to the attention of his or her employer, in writing, either himself or through his shop steward or collective bargaining agent within three months of the day on which the cause of such grievance arises.
Where the employee is not satisfied with the decision of the notice by the employer or where the employer fails to communicate his decision within the prescribed time, the employee can file a claim against the dismissal in the Labour Court. In such case, there are multiple remedies available to him, including re-instatement with payment of back-benefits, damages or any other applicable relief.
The law does not require third-party approvals in case of termination of services of any employee.
Upon termination of service, a workman can challenge the decision on two main grounds, i.e. by denying the allegation itself or by questioning the decision-making procedure adopted by the employer. In such case, the workman can pray for reinstatement of services with payment of back-benefits along with damages. If the authority before which the dismissal is challenged is in favour of the workman, it can order the reinstatement of the workman. However, depending on the circumstances and the facts, the authority may also award the remedy of damages instead of reinstatement.
The law provides protection to employees from dismissal under specified circumstances. For example, under the West Pakistan Maternity Benefits Ordinance, 1958, a woman absent from work
on account of her maternity leave cannot be dismissed during such absence. Moreover, a woman cannot be dismissed from service without a sufficient cause within a period of six months prior to the date of her delivery. Employers in contravention of the provisions of the Ordinance can be charged with penalties.
The Provincial Employees’ Social Security Ordinance, 1965 also prevents employers from dismissing, discharging, reducing or otherwise punishing an employee during a period in which the employee avails their sickness/maternity/injury or medical benefits. Any notice of dismissal or discharge or reduction given to an employee during such period will be invalid.
In case of disputes concerning workers, the Punjab Industrial Relations Act, 2010 provides for a detailed procedure for internal redressal of individual grievances. Under the Act, a worker can file a written notice with his employer, within 90 days of the day on which the cause of the grievance arises. If the aggrieved worker is dissatisfied with the decision, the worker can take the matter to the collective bargaining agent or the NIRC as the case may be.
Non-workers can enforce their contractual rights by way of filing a civil suit against their employer. In all such cases, the aggrieved parties are liable to pay the requisite legal and court fees.