Driver knocks down pedestrian
I am a Human Resources Manager of a fast growing company in Tanzania. A month ago, our driver while driving his private car knocked down a pedestrian and caused his death. He was charged with the offence of causing death by careless driving and found guilty on his own plea. The driver was then convicted and sentenced to pay a fine which he promptly paid and in addition to the fine his driving licence was cancelled and he was disqualified from obtaining another driving licence for a period of 18 months. Will it be justified to terminate the driver on the grounds of his conviction for a traffic offence?
Termination of employment contract on the basis of Court conviction presupposes that the Court found the employee guilty of an offence which also constitutes a disciplinary offence. The offence of causing death by careless driving is not a disciplinary offence or misconduct.
However, if an employee who is a driver is convicted by the Court of a traffic offence and his driving licence is cancelled and is also disqualified from driving obtaining another driving licence for a certain period, such driver can be terminated from employment by the employer on the ground of incapacity and not for misconduct.
Since the driver’s licence was cancelled by the Court and he was also disqualified from obtaining another driving licence, he became incapable of driving legally. Now that the driver can no longer render the driving services for which he was employed, the employer may terminate him on the ground of incapacity. If the Company has a different position to which he can be transferred, the management may do that if the employee is also willing to take the proposed new position. In case you do not have a position to relocate the driver or the driver refuses to relocate, you can continue to terminate the employee on the ground of incapacity.
Substantively, you have fair reason for terminating the driver’s contract of employment as you cannot keep his position vacant for 18 months. Nevertheless, you should make sure that a fair procedure is followed before terminating him. You should serve him with a show cause notice to explain why he should not be terminated for incapacity following the cancellation of his driving licence by the Court. After receiving a response from him, you have to hold a hearing and give him the right to be heard before he is terminated.