Equity Bank to pay 3 expats Sh13.8m for illegal sacking


Equity bank branch in Kibera slums in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Equity Bank Kenya Ltd has been ordered to pay three expatriates more than Sh13.8 million for declaring them redundant seven years ago and failing to notify them of the decision as required by law.

Employment and Labour Relations court judge Anna Mwaure ruled that the lender failed to give the three specialists from South Africa concrete evidence of the move to fire them.

The judge further said the bank failed to involve Mr Alan John Roberts, Mr Raphael Devantier, and Gerard Jan Hofhuis before deciding to let them go from the pool of employees.

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The judge, however, rejected the plea by Alexander Pavlos, a Canadian, saying he resigned voluntarily in February 2016.

“The court has perused the documents submitted by the respective parties and has not found that there was due notification to the claimants' Nos 1 to 3 to declare them redundant as required by section 40 (1) (b) of the Employment Act,” the judge said adding that the notice given to the labour officer by the Equity Bank was never copied to South Africans.

The four sued the lender in 2017 saying they were declared redundant against the law. They also claimed that they were discriminated against on account of being foreigners but the claim was rejected by the court.

Justice Mwaure said the reason given by the employer for the termination was that their positions were no longer profitable and the company did not have suitable placements for them.

The judge said genuine and meaningful consultations could only be undertaken during the initial stages of the redundancy process.

The four submitted that they worked diligently and dutifully and the lender did not raise any concerns about their performance during their term of service.

However, they were informed in 2016 that the Board had made a decision to terminate the services of industry specialists and were assured it was a strategic decision, even though the company was happy with their performance.

It was their argument that the decision took them by surprise considering that the bank was not undertaking any redundancy process at the time, and they had just renewed their work and residency permit.

Equity defended the decision arguing that it was facing low demand for advisory products and that there was a need to restructure Equity Bank Investment Group.

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The bank said the positions held by the expatriates as industry specialists were declared redundant by no fault of their own and the termination was just and fair.

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