IAN FERGUSON: Beware peril of unfair employee dismissals


Ian Ferguson

When you terminate an employee’s contract without a fair reason, it is an unfair or unlawful dismissal. Sometimes these issues are dealt with at Industrial Tribunals but, quite often, there are many terminations that go unaddressed.

Our employment laws help employees seek compensation when they are dismissed unfairly, but employers also need to be aware of the intricacies and imbalanced dismissal practices their companies may use.

In the Bahamian context, firing someone for any of the following are automatically unfair reasons for dismissal.

  • Membership of a trade union - Even when employees are vocal and active in their unions, they have a right to form such groupds aimed at improving their working conditions.

  • Employee-exposed wrongdoing in your workplace (whistleblowing) - When an employer or employee is engaged in an illegal practice, someone who calls it out should have protection from termination.

  • Maternity/paternity leave. Employees should never be dismissed for taking reasonable leave associated with child birth. Even if the leave is unpaid, dismissal should not be the option.

  • Suspected affiliation with a political party. Every employee is allowed, and expected, to exercise their constitutional right and vote in general elections and referendums. Unless they are grossly political in attending rallies and participating in partisan events, there should be no negative repercussions.

To protect your business, and to ensure staff receive fair treatment, you should always make sure you provide workers with copies of all procedures and policies, and make notes of all actions when an event could lead to an employment tribunal dispute. Above all, do everything in your power to mitigate issues by resolving them before they escalate.

• NB: Ian R Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at tcconsultants@coralwave.com.


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