The Youth Employment Agency (YEA) erred in asking 300 of its staff to proceed on leave, an Accra High Court judge has said.
Although the presiding judge acknowledged that management had the right to transfer its staff or ask them to proceed on leave, he said it must be done according to law.
He did not understand why the staff were asked to proceed on leave without any reason.
The judge also questioned why management took the decision when there was no governing board in place and bemoaned the manner in which staff are treated when they are asked to proceed on leave, describing it as “illegal.”
It will be recalled that in July this year the YEA attempted to embark on a mass transfer of some 300 staff after it discovered payroll fraud at the Agency. Others were also asked to proceed on leave.
Worried about their job security and anguished by how they have been treated, the staff then challenged the decision in court.
They first sought an interlocutory injunction restraining the Agency from enforcing letters issued to them, asking them to proceed on leave and transferring some to far places.
The Court granted an interim injunction against the YEA, stopping it from carrying out the exercise.
The judge on Thursday ruled, management can embark on the exercise of transfer “provided it is in accordance with due process of law.”
On the issue of positions, the judge said it was wrong for the staff members to be demoted once they have been transfered
“If you move a district director from one district to another he must be given that very position or something higher,” describing the attempt to demote some staff as illegal also.
Citing himself as an example, the judge said as a high court judge, though the Chief Justice can write to transfer him, that transfer must place him still as a high court judge but nothing lower.
The 300 staff are therefore to return to their original posts and those on transfer pending the determination of the suit can now only be made, if due process is followed.
They are also to be given three months notice before the transfer takes effect.
The YEA management has also been directed to pay the transportation and accommodation allowances before the transfers.
Some of the actions, including new appointments of persons to replace the plaintiffs by YEA, in the absence of a governing board and without recourse to the public services commission, have also been declared unlawful and must not stand.
However Lawyer for the YEA suggested to the judge some of the transfered employees were in an acting capacity for which reason it cannot be said they have been demoted on transfer.
The judge asked the defendants to provide some evidence after which a decision will be made.