Q&A 15 July 2013

Inequality of notice period in employment offer

I am an accountant in a public corporation and have received an offer of employment from one foreign company in the mining sector. While I am still contemplating whether I should accept it or not, I have noted few strange things in the letter of offer. One of these is that if I wish to terminate my employment contract I should give three month notice. However, when the company wishes to terminate the contract it shall only give two months notice or two month’s salary in lieu of notice. Is this proper under the labour laws? I find the company stands in a more advantageous position than me? I have attached the employment letter for you to review and respond to. Please guide.
FC, Dar

Section 41 of the Employment and Labour Relations Act No. 6 of 2004 is very clear in answering your question. This section provides that if a contract of employment can be terminated on notice, the period of notice shall not be less than 28 days if the employee is employed on a monthly basis, 4 days if the employee is employed on a daily or weekly basis and seven days if notice is given during the first month of employment.

This law further allows a longer notice period than the aforementioned provided that the agreed notice period is of equal duration for both the employer and the employee. This means that the notice period is not in compliance with the provisions of our labour laws. Should the employer want the notice period to be longer then it has to be equal months for both the employer and the employee.

You might want to bring this to the attention of your prospective employer as it might have been an oversight on their part. We are not in a position to review the entire employment letter but wish to alert you that on a cursory reading, the employment letter clearly states that this is not supposed to be circulated, which is exactly what you have already done. You should consult your lawyers for an in depth opinion.

Business versus economy class

My boss discriminates against me although I am head of finance. He is the CEO of the company I work for and when we travel for work, he travels business class whilst I am dumped uncomfortably in economy class. Is this not discriminatory behavior by my employer? I want to sue my employer?
HJ, Dar

Before you jump to conclusions about discrimination, which we agree is recognized under our labour laws, you must understand that discrimination has to be looked at in the context of each case otherwise it will open floodgates of litigation.

In your case you need to look at the company policies on travel, what class other heads of department travel in to mention a few. It is not abnormal for the boss to travel business class and the others to travel economy class. It is one of the perks that comes with being the boss. For example the boss might be having a bigger desk and office, a bigger car, a personal assistant, a larger salary and none of these would likely be discriminatory.

Before you get excited about suing your company, we recommend you look at the situation in its entirety and consult a labour expert.

Stray dog bit me

I was happily walking down a street and a stray dog bit me. I got some serious injuries and want to sue? Please guide me.
PE, Mwanza

We are not sure what guidance you need. Surely you cannot sue the dog and if it is stray means you cannot find the owner of the dog.

However, if you do locate the owner, he can be sued and/or charged criminally under our laws for not ensuring the safety of others around the dog. We recommend you consult your lawyers.

Hairdresser burns bride’s hair

A few days before my wedding I went to my friend to get my hair done. During the course of ironing my hair, the iron clung to my hair and burnt a large portion on the front. It was the most awful experience which resulted in great unhappiness for me during the wedding. I don’t look like a bride and my photos are horrible. How can I take this woman to task? I really want to teach her a lesson and put a claim of billions on her.
HG, Dar

There are a couple of interesting points here. To begin with, if your friend was not a trained hairdresser and was doing this for free, it is going to be quite hard for you to be able to succeed in a law suit against her.

If your friend is a trained hairdresser and was nonetheless doing your hair for free, you can sue her as she will be judged at the standard of care that a hairdresser is expected to be judged taking into account the expertise required of a hairdresser.

Lastly, if your friend is a hairdresser and was being paid for doing your hair, then you can also sue under the law of contract and file for damages as well.

We must bring to your attention that Tanzanian Courts are not very liberal in award for damages so don’t expect the billions you are talking about. Your lawyers can guide you further.