According to section 36(2) of the Cameroon labour code of 1992 the contract of employment may be terminated without notice in cases of serious misconduct. Gross misconduct is defined as a fault so manifestly obvious and gross that it renders the maintenance of the labour relation impossible. The major types of misconduct are: offensive behavior, damage and theft, unsafe behavior and general policy infractions.
HOW GROSS THE MISCONDUCT
Lord of Herefored in the case of Clauston and Co. Ltd v Corry 1906 A.C 122, 129 stated that there is no hard and fast rule of law defining the degree of misconduct which will justify summary dismissal. It is all a question of fact depending on all the circumstances of the particular case.
Gross misconduct is characterized by two main elements;
- A material fault so grave as to be gross, and
- An impossibility to continue with the labour relation as a result of the fault.
MISCONDUCT BY THE WORKER
The most frequent instance of misconduct is from the employee. The instances of the misconduct can be illustrated in the following situations;
- Insubordination or disobedience. This must be manifested within the worker’s contract and during working hours.
- Absenteeism. This is a situation of frequent absence as a result of false reasons.
- Acts of violence. This is the case of assault and battery committed by the worker on his co-workers, his hierarchical superior or the employer.
- Scandalous behavior. This is despicable immoral behavior manifested by the employee in the place of work which tarnishes the image of the establishment.
- Personal misconduct. This is the case of theft, embezzlement and related offences orchestrated by the worker.
MISCONDUCT BY THE WORKER
There are instances in which an employer could be at the origin of a gross misconduct and as a result the employee exercises the right to unilaterally terminate the labour relation. These instances are as follows;
- Non-payment of wages. In Etude de Me Nkilli v Abbe Mvogo, the supreme court of former east Cameroon held that the respondent was entitled to determine his contract without notice following the non-payment of his wages for several months.
- Unwarranted modification of the contract of employment. Modification in the time table or condition of work/service may also amount to gross misconduct on the part of the employer.
- Imposing a fine as a disciplinary sanction. This is prohibited by the labour code and can lead to penal sanctions against the employer with mandatory imprisonment.