If my contract is suspended due to covid-19. How do I get paid?

Friday March 27 2020

 

By Caroline Mboijana

I am a contract worker whose services are likely to be suspended before completion because of the coronavirus pandemic. What are my rights to payment and continuation supply of services after all this is over? Mariam

Dear Mariam
These are difficult times for all employees. All employers are reviewing their current business models and structures, trying to make the necessary adjustments to mitigate business risk and avoid losses. The reality is casual and contract employees will be the first to get hit and, in such times, there is little that will be in your control.

Your contract probably has a “Force Majeure” clause in it which refers to an event “which is beyond the reasonable control of a party and which makes a party’s performance of its obligations under the agreement impossible under the circumstances”. I believe this pandemic falls in this category.

Regarding your rights, payments and continuation of services there are some options that you can think about. As a minimum you should ask your employer to pay for services supplied up until your contract is suspended since your contract is based on payment for services provided. In terms of rights as mentioned above the “force majeure” will probably supersede your rights temporarily.

You will probably have room to negotiate at the point of actual termination. If your service delivery requires face to face, for example if you work in restaurants or it requires you to have discussion with customers, there is little you can do.

Right now, everyone is either, social distancing, in quarantine or self-isolating. If your service doesn’t require face to face interaction you could ask your employer if working remotely is an option. The way you think about “continuation of supply of services” may shift, the question is whether you are equipped to deliver services in the new definition of “work”.

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Caroline Mboijana
Managing Director
The Leadership Team (U)
cmboijana@gmail.com

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