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close this bookABC of Women Workers' Rights and Gender Equality (ILO; 2000; 124 pages)
View the documentThe International Labour Organization
View the documentILO Publications
View the documentPreface to the earlier ABC of women workers' rights
View the documentPreface to the new ABC of women workers' rights and gender equality
Open this folder and view contentsIntroduction: Labour standards promoting women workers' rights and gender equality (Ingeborg Heide1)
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View the documentDisabilities, persons with
View the documentDisciplinary action
View the documentDiscrimination
View the documentDismissal (termination of employment)
View the documentDivision of labour
View the documentDomestic workers
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View the documentOther ILO publications
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Dismissal (termination of employment)

"Dismissal" is the termination of employment when initiated by the employer. No employment should be terminated without a valid reason connected with the capacity or conduct of the worker or based on the requirements of the job. If there is a serious fault on the part of the worker, if the enterprise closes, or the contract of employment expires, the employment can be terminated. However, in such cases, the workers' representative should be consulted.

Workers should not be dismissed for participation in trade union activities, or on the basis of race, colour, sex, marital status, family responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction, social origin, absence from work during maternity leave or because of illness or injury.

It should be prohibited to give notice of dismissal to a woman when she is away from work on maternity leave, or at a time which would mean that the notice would expire while she is away. The period during which the woman is protected from dismissal before and after childbirth should be extended to begin on the date when the employer is notified of the pregnancy by medical certificate until at least one month after the end of maternity leave.

An appropriate procedure has to be followed in case of termination of employment, and the right to appeal should be guaranteed. The employer must prove the existence of a valid reason for dismissal; and the employee should have the possibility of appeal to a neutral competent body.

A worker should be entitled to either a reasonable period of notice or to compensation, unless he or she is dismissed for serious misconduct. Upon termination, a worker may also be entitled to a severance allowance, unemployment insurance and other benefits. Where an impartial body (such as a court or labour tribunal) rules that a dismissal was not justified, the worker should be reinstated in her or his job, or receive adequate compensation. Where dismissal has been based on discriminatory grounds, reinstatement should be the primary remedy, if desired by the worker.

In case of reduction of staff for economic or structural reasons, employees and their representatives should be consulted and informed of:

• the number, names and categories of workers likely to be affected; and

• the selection criteria used in making the decision, before redundancy and lay-off decisions are finalized. It should be ensured that the criteria used do not disadvantage women to a greater extent than men.

R. 95: Maternity Protection, 1952
C. 103: Maternity Protection (Revised), 1952
C. 110: Plantations, 1958 (and Protocol, 1982)
C. 111: Discrimination (Employment and Occupation), 1958
R. 111: Discrimination (Employment and Occupation), 1958
C. 156: Workers with Family Responsibilities, 1981
R. 165: Workers with Family Responsibilities, 1981
C. 158: Termination of Employment, 1982
R. 166: Termination of Employment, 1982

→ see also Burden of proof, Disciplinary action, Marital status and Maternity protection

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