By The Weekly Vision Team
A former employee of Premier Credit who was unfairly dismissed from employment has finally received justice after 12 years. The Employment and Labour Relations Court delivered judgment on June 30, 2016, in a case in which Samuel Mwenda Maigua had sued the lender.
In a ruling delivered by Judge James Rika, the court decided that Mr Maigua had indeed worked for 1 year and 2 months after being confirmed as a permanent and pensionable employee on October 1, 2015. The judge found that Maigua did not cause, or contribute to, the circumstances leading to his termination and was not paid anything on termination.
The judgment reads in part, “The Respondent shall pay to the Claimant notice at Ksh. 42,426; 35 days’ salary at Ksh. 50,584; and compensation for unfair termination at Ksh. 212,130—totals Ksh. 305,140.” The court learned that Maigua was employed by Premier Credit as a Loans Officer on January 13, 2015, on a monthly salary of Ksh. 40,000. He was confirmed after probation, effective October 13th, 2015, and enrolled in the Premier Credit Staff Scheme from October 1st, 2015. His monthly salary was raised to Kshs. 42,426.
He received a letter dated March 23, 2016, terminating his contract of employment. The management alleged that he was absent from work, did not meet monthly targets, and lacked proper relationships with other staff. However, Maigua, in his submissions dated August 8, 2023, states that the reasons stated in the letter of termination justifying the decision were not supported by any evidence. There were no documents to support any of the grounds. There was no letter to show cause issued to him, and there was no letter asking him to explain his 5 days of absence, thus he was not given a fair hearing, in accordance with Section 41 of the Employment Act, 2007.
In a quick rejoinder, Premier Credit claimed that poor performance was tied to failure to meet monthly targets and that he did not meet monthly targets because he harassed other staff while he had a duty to protect other staff. Further, it was alleged that his conduct irreparably damaged his relationship with his colleagues.
The judge noted that “allegations about poor performance came fast on the heels of the letter dated December 14, 2015. The letter states that the claimant’s performance in the year 2015 was commendable. He was dedicated to the respondent’s core values. His commitment to his tasks greatly contributed to the evolution of the respondent’s brand.” The judgment reads in part, “The Court is not satisfied that termination was based on valid reasons, under Sections 43 and 45 of the Employment Act.”
The judge further found that Premier Credit did not present any allegations to him through a letter to show cause. He was not asked to explain the allegations through a letter to show cause or a disciplinary hearing convened subsequently. He was just issued an abrupt letter of termination, dated March 23, 2016. He was simply told that ‘’we wish to inform you that your services have been terminated with effect from March 23, 2016.’’ This was the worst form of termination-at-will, with no notice and no cause.
This is not the only complaint of unfair treatment of employees by Premier Credit. A keen look at the reviews posted by both clients and staff of Premier Credit, as captured by the “Glasdoor reviews,” shows that the majority of employees are dissatisfied with the way they are being handled.
Below is a sample of some of the comments made by the disgruntled employees and customers.
On October 2, 2023, an intern wrote, “Lack of interest in the welfare of employees,” while another disgruntled employee commented, “poor management, especially at the call center.”
On May 29, 2023, a sales assistant reported “tiresome, long-distance, fiery sales. Lack of bus fare,” while an administrative assistant reported that “leave days were not put into consideration.
A sales and development employee commented, “Low payment and stressful boss.”