In a huge relief to thousands of workers whose employment contracts were terminated on 3 months’ notice on or after the 17 July 2015 Zuva Petroleum judgment the constitutional court has ruled that the employers must pay damages for loss of employment.

The ruling by the apex court of the land came with the dismissal of an appeal by Greatermans Stores which sought to make government pay the employer compensation for the money paid to the employee for loss of employment.

The constitutional court has dismissed with costs the application lodged by Greatermans Stores trading as Thomas Meikles Stores which was challenging the validity of civil legislation’s retrospective.

The final ruling by the con-court means all employers who terminated contracts of employment on 3 months’ notice on or after 17 July 2015 must pay the minimum retrenchment package of not less than one month’s salary or wages for every 2 years of service as an employee.    

The applicants lodged an appeal in terms of section 85 (1) of the Constitution alleging that section 18 of the Labour Amendment Act number 5 of 2015 as read with section 12 of the Labour Act Chapter 28:01 is unconstitutional.

The basis of the argument was the cited part of the Labour Act violated the companies’ fundamental rights to equality, the right to fair labour practices, and the right not to be compulsorily deprived of property.

The court held that there was no constitutional provision which prohibits the use by the legislature of the retrospective method to implement civil legislation.

The court additionally found that the applicants failed to prove the alleged infringement of any of the fundamental rights they relied upon.

It said the retrospective imposition of the new financial obligations on the companies to pay compensation to the employees whose employment they terminated on notice for loss of employment respects their rights enshrined in the constitution.

 The case was dismissed with costs.