Late Nderitu Gachagua's cook awarded Sh0.4 million for unfair sacking

A former cook in the residence of the former Nyeri governor has won a case against the county for unfair dismissal.

The Employment and Labour Relations Court ordered the county to pay Samuel Wambugu Sh400,000 for sacking him after he requested to be paid for working overtime.

The compensation is equivalent to 12 months salary.

The court held that Mr Wambugu was kicked out of employment at Nderitu Gachagua's residence without a valid reason. The court also found that he was not given notice.

"The claimant did not contribute to the termination of the contract and he desired to continue in employment, as per the contract of employment. The court has considered the aggravating factor that the respondent (Nyeri county) repeatedly failed to address the claimant's reasonable and well-founded grievances about overtime and other unpaid dues," Justice Byram Ongaya ruled.

"The court has considered the factors and returns that the claimant is entitled to the maximum 12 months compensation for unfair termination," he ruled.

The court heard that the cook, employed in 2013, had worked for an entire year without an off day. He had also worked overtime, which tabulated to 240 days.

His employer denied him time off, saying there was no other employee who could change shifts with him.

On August 6, 2014, after working for two weeks overnight without an off day, Wambugu wrote to his employer, requesting to be paid for the extra time worked.

In response, the county informed him that his services were no longer needed effective August 26 that year.

The county denied having unfairly terminated Wambugu's contract and asked the court to award him one month's salary for its failure to notify him a month before that his services were no longer required.

However, the court found that the county did not follow the right channels of dismissing an employee.

"The claimant was dismissed without notice and no reason was advanced. The respondent's action to terminate without notice and retroactively was clearly unfair for want of due process and a valid reason, the judge ruled."

The court awarded Wambugu Sh48,000 for overtime and Sh31,104 for the year he worked without leave.