This is one of the most common causes of suspension of the worker’s contract of employment. Sickness in this sense is given a wide interpretation as it encompasses ordinary sickness, surgical operations and even accidents. The contract of employment of an employee will be suspended as a result of sickness or accident whether or not it arises out of the employment or is quite independent from it.
Section 32 of the Cameroon labour code stipulates that a contract of employment shall be suspended during the worker’s absence in the case of sickness duly certified by a medical practitioner approved by the employer or one belonging to a hospital establishment recognized by the state for a period not exceeding 6 months. This period shall be extended until such time as the worker is replaced.
In the 6 months period of sickness, the contract of employment of the worker is to be suspended. However, there are cases in which the worker could still be dismissed whether they were sick or still in active service and the dismissal will be legal. These cases are as follows;
- Dismissal arising from professional faults prior to sickness,
- Where there is medical evidence that the sickness will last above 6 months
- Dismissal upon the attainment of the objectives of a job
Probation and Leave
If the worker were on probation or leave, sickness merely suspends the total duration of both. As regards the period of leave, if the sickness surpass the period of leave, the contract will be considered as suspended by sickness and not by leave.
Sickness does not suspend the running of the notice period since in any event, the contract will be determined.
POSITION OF OCCUPATIONAL SICKNESS
Where the worker’s sickness arises from his employment, his protection is absolute in the sense that there is no limit for suspension of his contract of employment. Hence his contract of employment will be suspended until such time as he may recover or until he is admitted to early retirement.
If at the end of 6 months, the worker is still sick, his contract of employment is considered as lawfully terminated if the worker has been replaced. Otherwise, his suspension continues until he is effectively replaced.
If the worker recovers from his sickness, he shall resume duty, but if his capacity drops as a result of his sickness, he shall be bound to accept a lower category job than his qualification, but corresponding to his new capabilities.