In South Africa, stringent Labour Laws have created somewhat of a minefield for employers to navigate when it comes to disciplinary procedures. While protecting the rights of the employee is paramount, employers that are not completely up to date with the relevant legislation could soon find themselves in hot water.
Research reveals that employers lose about 60 percent of cases referred to The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) by disgruntled employees or their union representatives. Losing a CCMA case has three distinct drawbacks: the employer is usually found to be financially liable; the business’ reputation is damaged, and a record of wrongful-dismissal or treatment made; and precious business hours are lost while attending CCMA hearings, hampering productivity and morale.
According to Thomas Matthee, Managing Director at NeTrec, there are four main reasons why employers lose CCMA cases. “The first reason is that they do not follow the correct disciplinary procedures. Whether this is due to ignorance or done intentionally makes no difference – in the eyes of the law, ignorance is no excuse. The second shortcoming occurs when employers fail to act consistently, for example, when one employee is more harshly disciplined than another for a similar offence. Thirdly, employers lose cases because they fail to hold a procedurally fair hearing. There are strict steps to follow, and if this is not adhered to, the employer is in trouble. The last is the failure to maintain a reliable and accurate document trail throughout the entire disciplinary process. Complete documentary evidence is essential to success.”
This week, the biggest Human Resources (HR) conference in Africa – the HR Indaba – was held at the Sandton Convention Centre. “As HR professional, you have the fantastic opportunity to shape the organisations of the future,” says an HR Indaba representative. The 2018 Indaba was based on the theme of unlocking true potential.
To a certain degree, the disciplinary process is designed to do just that; to help employees unlock their true potential. “In many cases, the purpose of the disciplinary process is to correct an employee’s path, to help them improve in their position and learn from their mistakes,” adds Matthee. “Yet, too often, employers approach discipline incorrectly, leading to costly CCMA cases, further disgruntled employees, and a sour experience for all parties.”
As one of the exhibitors at the HR Indaba, NeTrec used this platform to launch its innovative iRate software platform, designed to empower line managers to take control of their department’s human capital discipline processes – the right way. “This one of a kind, online industrial relations discipline management system guides businesses through the entire disciplinary process,” confirms Matthee. “This ensures HR is following well governed disciplinary policies and procedures – and adhering to relevant legislation. As it is an online system, it is accessible from any location, at any time.”
The highly customisable system allows employers to track all disciplinary processes throughout the entire organisation, from the first offence onwards. With reliable checklists, electronic templates, and outcome recommendations, it also ensures that employers maintain procedural fairness and remain well within the confines of the law. It is a unique, user-friendly, affordable and subscription based solution designed for SMEs and enterprise customers.
“iRate was developed hand-in-hand with legal and HR professionals. We relied on their accumulated expertise to develop a best of breed system,” concludes Matthee. “The solution effectively addresses South Africa’s strict labour policies and procedures by providing an unbiased, fair and consistent decision engine. With electronic records kept of all supporting documents and evidence relating to offences and disciplinary action taken, the tool drives disciplinary action that is corrective and progressive, consistent and procedurally fair.”