A contract of employment of unspecified duration is the most common form of employment contract which relates parties without precising either directly or indirectly the term of their engagement. Though such a contract may last the life of both parties, the contract may not be concluded for life. The labour code recognizes in the parties a reciprocal right to unilateral termination of the labour relation at any time. However, in order not to cause an atmosphere of confusion in the exercise of such right, section 34 (j) of the Cameroon labour code has subjected this right to the issuance of prior reasonable notice except the right of notice is forfeited under circumstances statutory or conventional. The dismissal by the employer or the resignation by the worker must be in writing clearly stating the reasons for the dismissal or resignation.
EXERCISE OF THE RIGHT OF UNILATERAL TERMINATION BY THE EMPLOYER
- Reorganization of the Establishment: This is a prerogative specific to the employer alone as he bears the risk of success and failure of his establishment. He therefore has the sole right to determine who he maintains as a worker and who he thinks is surplus to requirement for his workforce. In the direction of downsizing his workforce, he is to decide which workers to maintain and which to dismiss.
- Physical/professional Incapacity of worker: The physical and professional incapacity of the worker can entitle the employer to terminate the former’s contract of employment.
- Discipline: The employer has a plethora of disciplinary measures he can exert on a worker including the right to terminate the contract of employment. Though some of the measures entail warnings and suspension of the worker, the employer can still dismiss the worker in severe situations. However, inflicting direct pecuniary loss on the worker is not one of the measures the employer can use as discipline.
- Gross Misconduct: This is any disciplinary fault resulting in the in execution of the contract which is so obvious and gross that it is not reasonably possible to maintain the labour relation between the employer and employee. The most common of these conducts are disobedience or insubordination, negligence etc.
EXERCISE OF THE RIGHT OF UNILATERAL TERMINATION BY THE EMPLOYEE
- Gross Misconduct by Employer: Where the employer is guilty of misconduct, the worker has the right to terminate the labour relation with or without notice depending on the gravity of the misconduct. Such misconduct can be a delay in the payment of wages, gross disrespect etc.
- New Employment: The worker can decide for the improvement of his financial situation and living standards to change his employer. This is because a worker is not a slave to a particular employer and the employment world is a competitive world with different working conditions and pay package. However, the worker is subjected to give a prior reasonable notice to the employer.