CoA to rule on retrenchment benefits

Bame Piet
SEEKING COMPENSATION: Fourie (c) with his lawyers

With many companies already embarking on retrenchment exercises to survive the impact of COVID19 pandemic, many employees are likely to be robbed of their benefits as has been the case in the past.

The Court of Appeal is expected to make yet another ruling early next month to buttress the fact that employees facing retrenchment are entitled to both Severance Pay and Retrenchment Pay/Compensation.

This is in a matter in which Jacobus Fourie is demanding Retrenchment Pay from his former employer Concor Botswana Contractors after he was retrenched in 2018.

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The Industrial Court ruled in his favour, but Concor Botswana Contractors appealed the ruling on grounds that he can not be entitled to both.

But the lawyer representing Concor found it hard to convince a panel of three Justices Stephen Gaongalelwe, Ian Kirby and Mercy Garekwe on the appeal.

The judges told Advocate Steyn Fourie who is representing the company, that the Employment Act recognizes that an employee who is being retrenched is entitled to both Severance Pay and Retrenchment Pay among others.

According to Advocate Fourie the company informed its employees of its intention to retrench in May 2018 and that it will comply with all labour laws and promised that everybody will get what is due to them.

It also had a retrenchment policy that entitled employees to retrenchment pay, but withdrew from the policy saying the employees were not entitled to both as it is the practice in South Africa.

“Retrenchment Pay is a compensation for cutting short an employee’s job because they had expected to work until retirement,” said Garekwe as she engaged the attorney.

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The three judges emphasized that Botswana employment laws are different from South African laws, the latter which does not recognize retrenchment pay.

Advocate Fourie argued that the company embarked on the retrenchment exercise because it was in financial dire straits and therefore any ruling in favour of Jacobus Fourie will compound its situation and sink it.

Jacobus Fourie was employed as a Camp Site Manager from 2007 until 2018 and was paid Severance Pay when he was retrenched.

He is demanding around P140,000.00 from the company as retrenchment pay.

However, The Court of Appeal  has already made a ruling on a similar matter earlier, ordering employers to pay retrenchment compensation.

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The Voice is informed that an estimated seven former employees are demanding retrenchment pay from the company.

Attorney for Laurine Bonner of Bonner Attorneys, who is representing Jacobus Fourie, insisted that her client was entitled to Retrenchment Pay.

  

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