Transfer Of Employees At The Work Place -

A transfer refers to lateral movement of employees within the same grade, from one job to another.According to Flippo “a transfer is a change in the job (accompanied by achange in the place of the job) of an employee without a change inresponsibilities or remuneration”.

A transfer may be initiated either by the employer or the employee.

Transfers are generally envisaged in contracts of employment, codes of conduct and employers’ policies. Transfers are affected tobuild up a more satisfactory work team and to achieve the following purposes;to increase the effectiveness of the organisation, to increase versatility andcompetence of key positions, to deal with fluctuations in work requirements, tocorrect incompatibilities in employee relations, to correct erroneousplacement, to relieve monotony etc.

Employees tend to loathe transfers for the obvious reason of wanting to maintain the status quo.

See the cases of; Huruva v Traffic Safety Council SC 30/08; Nkomo v RTG SC 47/15

At the same time employers have a tendency of using transfers as punishment or means to frustrate an unwanted employee.

It is imperative that the employment contracts or policies be developed at the workplace to deal with transferability of employees for uniformity purposes.

In most cases employees refute transfers whereas they forget that they are legally bound by the transferability clauses in respective employment contracts. Such conduct undermines and paralyses the employer’s work thereby constituting a fundamental breach of the contract of employment.

By refusing to go where the employer’s work is to beperformed, the employee virtually render himself or herself incapable of performing the employer’s work thereby repudiating the contract of employment.

Some employers actually view such conduct as failure to take lawful orders given by the employer which constitutes summary dismissal from employment if proven guilty of committing the offence.

The law recognizes the employer’s right to shuffle and shift staff as it pleases.

The employer’s discretion in determining which employee should be transferred and to which point of the employer’s operations is not tobe readily interfered with except for good cause shown.

Good cause in the circumstances, while not easy to define, would include such matters as unfounded allegations, victimisation of the employee and any disadvantage.

The employee who undertakes to work for an employer whose business is carried out at different places takes the risk of being sent to perform services for the employer wherever such services are required, unless the employment contract stipulates that he is to be employed and remain at a specific place only. See Ngema & Anor v Minister of Justice, Kwazulu &Anor 1992 (4) SA 349 (N).

In the Huruva case (supra) the Supreme Courtemphasized that although the employee has a right to be heard, and to makerepresentation against the transfer, the final decision still lies with the employer. Once it is shown that the employer gave consideration to the need to transfer an employee and gave that employee a hearing, the employer’s decision cannot be held to be improper.

The contents of this article are for general information purposes only and do not constitute our legal or professional advice. We accept no responsibility for any loss or damage of whatsoever nature which may arise from reliance on any of the information published herein.

Copyright © Marume & Furidzo LegalPractitioners 2018

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