Labour Advice.1. What to do when employee refuses to carry out my orders?

One of our member recently was engaged in argument with his employee when he asked her to take care of some duties which were supposed to be carried by another employee who was sick. The concerned employee refuses to take responsibility as she claims it is not her work and let an employer find another employee and as a result the boss told the concerned employee to go back home if she doesn’t want to take care of the tasks. Latter on our member (client) called to inquire if what he had done was right in a situation or what could have been done according to the labour procedures.

Am sure there are many employers who have been facing the similar situation or about to face such a circumstance in a near future.

Therefore as an association for employers we are duty bound to offer our advice on the above scenario as follows;-

Things to consider before taking any steps;-

  1. You have to consider referring to the terms of the contract for which you have signed with the concerned employee. If the terms of the contract explicitly provides for additional or any other related assignment to be carried out by the concerned employee then he/she is obliged to do or to  perform
  2. You must know that an employee is not entitled to refuse lawful orders of the employer or supervisor provided that such orders  are within the terms of the contract and are not in breach of any law
  3. An act to disobey the lawful orders of the employer amount to insubordination which is misconduct and can be charged against the employee and punished accordingly.

Here are steps to deal with such situation;-

  • Prepare a letter to employee so that he/she can give explanation in writing as to why he/she refuses to carry out employers/supervisor’s orders
  • The answers to the letter must be provided within 48 hrs or more depends on the guidelines at the work place
  • When the answers not satisfactory and the employer thinks that disciplinary measures are to be taken against the employee, then employer must prepare a formal charge on the misconduct against the employee
  • The employer must arrange a meeting or disciplinary hearing whereby the matter can be heard and decided upon
  • If the employee is found guilty and appropriate punished be issued, it must be communicated in writing and such record must be kept in employee’s personal file
  • If the employee is not reformed with previous punishment such as counselling, warning or suspension then employer might issue severe punishment on repeated cases of insubordination such as termination of employment contract.


It is important to note that, a case as we have discussed above may not justify termination on first offence but in case of repetition an employer is justified to terminate the relationship. Therefore, employers must avoid to take matters outside the parameters of law because some employees are doing some actions in order for employer to make mistake and then they file a labour dispute for unfair termination.

For more information please contact your labour law advisor in any scenario you are facing.

Adv. Isaack Zake

Director of Legal and PR of TAACIME

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