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Ivan Israelstam

employees working together

An integral element of an employment relationship is the need for and the right of the employer and employee to trust each other. This is a two-way street and either party could forgo his/her right to continue the employment by destroying the trust relationship.

employee drinking at work

It is legally very dangerous for employers to discipline and fire employees  who commit offences due to illness or disability. For example, an employee who uses alcohol or narcotics and becomes addicted is legally classified as being ill and is protected by law.

Section 158 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) gives the Labour Court the power to issue interdicts preventing employers, employees or trade unions from proceeding with threatened or current actions. 

man-holding-briefcase

Dereliction of duty is a charge that is tempting for employers to use especially when they are angry with the employee concerned. 

disciplinary-hearing

The purpose of workplace disciplinary hearings is to enable the chairperson of the hearing to hear, from both sides, evidence relating to the charges against the employee. Part of the hearing of evidence is the right of the opposing party to cross examine any evidence brought. At such hearings the parties present are normally:

outsourcing

The takeover of an entity or part thereof by a new owner or a new management often causes loss of jobs and employees are often desperate to stay on with the new enterprise. On the other hand, the new owner/management very often already has its own staff and wants to avoid the expense of taking on additional employees.

termination

What rights do employers have to discipline employees for misconduct perpetrated outside the workplace? While employers have very few rights under the Labour Relations Act (LRA) they do have the right to discipline and even to dismiss employees for work related misconduct. However, a dismissal will only be upheld by the CCMA, bargaining council or Labour Court where:

person-receiving-termination-letter

It has become a practice by employers to insert automatic termination clauses into employment contracts for reasons including the following:

Disciplinary warnings are given with a view to correcting employee behaviour. But, what is the difference if the employer policy says that warnings have an expiry period and must be removed from files, or alternatively, the warning expires but if kept on record. Will this be relevant? Just one of the questions on warnings that Ivan Israelstam addresses this week.  

When an employer sets up a disciplinary hearing, or decides following an investigation that there is more to be answered and investigated, there may be reason to place the relevant employee on suspension. However, as with everything else in employment and labour law, there is a procedure regarded as fair, which should be followed, Is there a reason why the employer feels suspension is necessary, such as threatening or intimidating potential witnesses?  Ivan provides cases to demonstrate this point.

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