Can an employer terminate an employment contract on the ground of worker’s sickness? This article will answer to this question based on the Labor Law of Cambodia.
Article 74 of the Labor Law read:
The labor contract of unspecified duration can be terminated at will by one of the contracting parties. This termination shall be subject to the prior notice made in writing by the party who intends to terminate the contract to the other party.
However, no layoff can be taken with a valid reason relating to the worker’s aptitude or behavior, based on the requirements of the operation of the enterprises, establishment or group.
Accordingly, worker’s sickness can be one of reasons for dismissal. The question is to what extent or how serious the sickness is that constitutes valid reason for dismissal. Even though sickness of the worker is non-work-related one, dismissal of workers is cruel from the social common sense. Hence, employer who wishes to terminate the contract needs to comply with dismissal rules as provided under the Labor Law.
Dismissal should be the last resort. Before terminating an employment contract, the employer should suspend the employment contract (read more Suspension of employment contract). Pursuant to Article 71, in particular paragraph 3, the employment contract must be suspended if a worker is absent because of his or her illness, certified by a qualified doctor. This absence is limited to 6 months, but can, however, be extended until there is a replacement. (Read more Cambodia: Leave due to sickness) Accordingly, employer cannot immediately terminate the worker during the period of sick leave. It is more reasonable that the employer dismiss the worker after the end of period of work suspension which should have the period up to 6 months or even longer until there is replacement.
Even through the employer has valid reason for dismissal, he or she needs to serve notice of contract termination to the worker. The notice of period is specified in article 75 of the Labor Law (read more Notice of Termination of Unspecified Duration Contract). In addition, employer also has to pay seniority indemnity to the dismissed worker (read more Seniority Indemnity Payment in Cambodia).
In conclusion, employer can terminate the contract on the ground of the worker’s sickness as long as the employer complies with the dismissal rules under the Labor Law of Cambodia.