Ivan Israelstam

Newly appointed supervisors and managers do sometimes find difficulty in understanding what is meant by a "fair labour practice". As Ivan Israelstam explains in this article, it is not quite as simple to identify what is unfair as it is to identify what is illegal in criminal law. This article sets out very plainly the questions managers and supervisors should ask themselves to determine whether their actions will be seen as "fair" - or unfair

The word "prejudice" is often used in general conversation. But in labour law the word has more than one meaning, which has implications for the workplace and disciplinary procedures. This week Ivan Israelstam explains the various meanings with actual case examples.

Limiting stock losses and wastage are key strategies for a successful business, particularly in sectors like retail and hospitality. Frustrated employers have sometimes dismissed all employees if they could not find the culprits. This week Ivan Israelstam cautions against taking such actions without advice.

Employers will often complain about all the employee "rights". But do employers make clear to employees what it means to have a fiduciary duty towards the employer? The more senior the employee the stronger the duty to be trustworthy. Ivan Israelstam provides advice to employers in how to protect their business.

Whereas legal documents are usually difficult to understand, labour law is mostly written in plain language - making it accessible to everyone. However the word "reasonable" crops up throughout labour law and what it means causes confusion to many. Ivan Israelstam explains further.

At year end many employees put out their CVs seeking a new job, which they will take up after receiving their bonus. For employers inundated with CVs, it is tempting to take everything at face value rather than check the details. Ivan Israelstam explains the implications when it is found that the employee has misrepresented their information at interview or in their CV.

Employers are usually far too busy running their business to spend much time reading labour law. So what they hear on TV, or read in the newspapers (electronic or hardcopy) probably constitutes what they know about labour law. In this article Ivan Israelstam explains what type of action at the workplace may constitute victimisation.

Employees and union representatives often allege that the presiding officer in a disciplinary hearing is biased. This may simply be a tactic to disrupt the disciplinary proceedings. So it is important that the person making the allegation of bias must be able to provide some evidence of why they allege bias. Ivan Israelstam explains ...

Employers are entitled to set the standards of performance for employees, and employees are required to work to these standards. This does not mean that employers can set unreasonable standards, fail to provide the necessary training or equipment and then think that they can simply dismiss the non-performing employee without comeback. Ivan Israelstam clearly sets out what is expected of employers.

After recruitment and selection it is normal practice to discuss the terms and conditions of the employment offered. Contracts are usually drawn up and signed by both parties before the new employee actually starts work. But what happens if something goes wrong, such as a disagreement about the terms or conditions? May the employer legally terminate the contract? Ivan Israelstam explains the complexities.

Employers generally seek legal advice before proceeding with retrenchment exercises, but how many accept that the potential retrenchees are equally allowed to seek legal advice? Unionised workers are able to rely upon their union legal advisers,but what of other employees? Ivan Israelstam argues for external representation in retrenchment consultations

Workplaces are based upon good faith relationships. The parties enter into a contract where the company agrees to pay for agreed work to be performed; the company has the responsibility to manage a safe work environment and the employees to abide by rules providing an organised safe workplace. But too often this goes wrong. Ivan Israelstam provides information and guidance before the upcoming seminar on this subject.

Employers do often suspend employees from duty. However, sometimes the employer has an ulterior motive for the suspension, or alternatively the employer does not follow a fair procedure for suspension, or suspends the employee without pay. Ivan Israelstam highlights the dangers of an unfair suspension.

Some employers have run their business with 'temporary" employees, by using a continuous renewal of fixed term contracts rather than appointing the person permanently. They have thought that strategy will avoid their labour law obligations. However, those days have come to an end. Ivan Israelstam explains how you can inadvertently guarantee a temporary employee permanent employment.

Parties in disciplinary hearings often feel pressure to "win" - to succeed at all costs - and on occasion this may lead to dishonest behaviour. This week Ivan Israelstam provides examples of such behaviour and the consequences.

In common law employers and employees have the obligation to treat each other fairly and within the law. Both parties have obligations, and both parties should beware of taking frivolous or vexatious matters to the CCMA or to court. This week Ivan Israelstam explains further and provides very useful examples.

What are the limitations upon chairpersons of disciplinary hearings? May an employee be interrupted when cross-examining a witness? Does the employee have a right to cross-examine witnesses? What are the consequences when these requirements are not adhered to? Ivan Israelstam explains ...

Are employees driving employers to drink - or is the CCMA, the Labour Court, and the Labour Appeal Court? Is an employer able to dismiss an employee who has been drinking, or is mildly under the influence, or is clearly intoxicated - and is the employer required to clearly distinguish the difference? Ivan Israelstam laments ....

Company management and executives are always busy, so is it really necessary for them to waste time at the CCMA arbitration hearings? Every labour law practitioner has heard similar questions. Sometimes the notification doesn't reach the correct company representatives. Ivan Israelstam explains what to do when the arbitration has concluded without company representation.

The Code of Good Practice: Dismissal imposes a number of requirements on an employer who is contemplating dismissing an employee for misconduct. No longer can employers just assert a dishonest act by the employee is sufficient to warrant dismissal. The employer needs to be able to demonstrate a complete breakdown of trust. Ivan Israelstam explains ...

Employers need to consult with employees - or their union before taking a decision to retrench. The responsibility lies with the employer. This week Ivan Israelstam explains the potential consequences of a failure to complete a procedurally fair retrenchment exercise.

Employees facing valid disciplinary action do sometimes think that they will gain time or other advantage by disrupting the disciplinary process. Presiding Officers need to be skilled and knowledgeable enough to distinguish between valid and legitimate objections and time-wasting complaints.

When an employee commits a serious offence does this automatically mean that the trust relationship has been broken? Ivan Israelstam explains that employers cannot simply allege that the trust relationship has broken down - rather it is necessary for employers to be able to provide evidence that a continued employment relationship is intolerable.

"Double jeopardy" may sound like a TV game show, but in employment relations relates to charging an employee more than once on the same set of behaviour - usually when an employer is doing their best to dismiss an employee. Ivan Israelstam explains the potential financial consequences of this practice.

Employers do often have genuine reasons for employing people for a fixed period. However, where there is a permanent vacancy, trying to employ people on fixed term contracts - or contracts that do not specify an end date, will definitely cause a problem for employers. Ivan Israelstam explains ...


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