The Kerala High Court recently ruled that before terminating the services of contractual employees for unsatisfactory performance, the employer must give notice to the employee.
The petition was filed by two individuals who were hired as an attender and part-time sweeper at an Ayush NHM Homeo Dispensary in Mananthavady. They claimed that they were unjustly terminated by their employer without proper cause, despite being appointed through the proper selection process and not being ‘backdoor’ hires.
The judge in the case, Justice Anu Sivaraman, stated that terminating the services of contractual employees without any notice is unjustified.
The Court found that the primary reason for ending the employment of the petitioners was that their job performance was deemed unsatisfactory. However, it also noted that even though the petitioners had been working for the municipality on a contract basis for several years, they were not given any notice or warning about the alleged shortcomings in their work, and no formal evaluation of their job performance had been conducted.
Consequently, the Court overturned the decision to terminate the employment of the petitioners and ordered the relevant authorities to allow the petitioners to continue working as contractual employees for the Mananthavady Municipality.
However, the Court also stated that it will not prevent the Municipality from taking appropriate legal action against the petitioners if notice is provided in the future.
Reportedly, the petitioners had previously sought relief from the court based on various government regulations regarding contractual appointments. However, the Court had previously ruled against the petitioners, stating that the government regulations they relied on were not applicable. The legal representative for the Mananthavady Municipality argued that the petitioners, as contractual employees, do not have an unassailable right to continued employment or a claim to permanent employment status.