Ivan Israelstam

When will it be fair to dismiss an employee for poor performance? What is poor performance? What are the employer's rights in setting the performance standard and what are the employer's responsibility towards employees?  This week Ivan Israelstam responds to these critical questions that apply to all employers and explains what the employer will need to be able to demonstrate to a CCMA commissioner in an unfair dismissal arbitration. 

Employers do complete employment contracts before the person commences work, but does that make the person an employee? What are the implications is the employer decides to terminate the contract even before the person has commenced work? This week Ivan Israestam deals with these interesting labour law questions. 

Retrenchment consultations are potentially emotional and difficult discussions. This week Ivan Israelstam explains whether employees involved in a retrenchment consultation have a right to bring in a lawyer or other external labour law representative. 

Employers may suspend an employee in a number of circumstances, some are reasonable and fair, but others may simply be as a result of an employer trying to make life difficult for an employee so that the employee will resign.  This week Ivan Israelstam explains all the various circumstances of suspensions.

This week Ivan Israelstam explains potential forms of disruption and indiscipline at the workplace - what he refers to as workplace rebellions. The article goes on to consider when dismissal is a fair response by the employer, quoting cases to show how the CCMA will respond to allegations of unfair dismissal. 

Employers may believe that by using a fixed-term contract, they will avoid having to permanently employ a person. However, this week Ivan Israelstam explains how an employer can inadvertently guarantee a temporary employee a reasonable expectation of further employment.

Following last week's article on the definition and legal consequences of entrapment, this week Ivan Israelstam explains other illegal and unethical practices, which may be used at disciplinary hearings. Under pressure to achieve a dismissal, supervisors and managers may be tempted to use these practices.  However, as Ivan explains they are highly likely to backfire on management.   

What exactly is entrapment and is it legal for an employer to entrap an employee? What is the difference between entrapment, and trapping? Employers who are not trained lawyers may well find this all very difficult to understand and end up on the wrong side of a CCMA decision. This week Ivan Israelstam explains what an employer needs to do in order to prove that they have acted legally and fairly in a dismissal.

In common law employers and employees have the obligation to treat each other fairly and within the law. What does that mean? This week Ivan Israelstam explains very clearly what the obligations are for both employers and employees. The CCMA arbitrators and the Labour Court and Labour Appeal Court judges will not take kindly to parties to do bring forward an accurate account of events, or are shown to have not met their obligations. 

At a hearing arranged to discipline an employee both parties are entitled bring witnesses. These witnesses may come from inside or outside the workplace. The accused employee has the right to cross-examine the witnesses brought by the employer. Ivan Israelstam explains further.

When an employee is intoxicated by alcohol and is driving or using equipment, this can potentially constitute a danger to themselves or to others. This week Ivan Israelstam quotes some cases, which indicate that the CCMA arbitrators are not necessarily consistent in their decisions So how should employers respond?

"Don't miss the arbitration hearing! It may well continue without you." Good advice from Ivan Israelstam this week. But what should you do if you didn't receive the notice of the arbitration hearing? Ivan explains how to proceed with a rescission application.   

At some time or other, most employers are faced with the decision on whether dishonesty by an employee warrants dismissal. This week Ivan Israelstam explains what the Code of Good Practice Dismissal requires employers to take into account. Ivan also explains the importance of mitigating factors that need to be taken into account before an employer makes the decision to dismiss.

  

Disciplinary hearings can be difficult situations for employers to handle.  Management who have been trained in the labour law and disciplinary processes stand the best chance of managing the difficulties that may arise. This week Ivan Israelstam makes these points and how disciplinary disruptions should be handled.

Why is is important that disciplinary action takes place timeously? This week Ivan Israelstam explains how difficult it is to prove that the trust relationship has been broken sufficient to warrant dismissal - if the disciplinary procedure was delayed and the employee was allowed to continue working.

This week Ivan Israelstam explains the concept of double jeopardy, and why it is important that employers understand what it is, and how to avoid actions that count as double jeopardy.  

Fines of up to R1 500 000 require desperate measures from defaulting employers reports Ivan Israelstam. The Department of Labour Employment Equity Division is very serious about getting designated employers to comply with the requirements of the Employment Equity Act. If you have failed to meet the 15 January 2018 deadline for online reporting, then read on for Ivan's advice. 

Where the job itself is permanent it is dangerous to employ staff on anything but a permanent contract. This is firstly because the Labour Relations Act provides for fixed-term employees to have a reasonable expectation of renewal of their contracts at the expiry date. Secondly, case law has gradually narrowed those circumstances under which an employment agreement can legitimately be accepted as a limited duration contract.

Sex related acts not always sexual harassment - that is the outcome of a case Ivan Israelstam examines this week.  This case indicates how important it is to ensure that disciplinary action is taken timeously.  A delay - and allowing the employee to continue working - would indicate that the trust relationship is not broken. Therefore, dismissal may be found to be unfair.

This week Ivan Israelstam explain that the responsibities of larger employer. The bigger the employer, the more that is required before dismissing a sick employee. The case against Standard Bank illustrates how the courts will consider the responsibilities of the larger employers. This is especially a concern where the employee has long service and previously been a good employee. 

This week Ivan Israelstam expreses the opinion that the "conflicting court decisions on going concerns mean that we don’t know if we are coming or going".  Read on to see why Ivan holds this opinion. Find our what is a transfer as a going concern, and why this definition is so important to contracting companies. 

This week Ivan Israelstam explains how strikes can damage a company in the long term - way after the strike has concluded, and how employees are also adversely affected. He provides guidance for employers on how to manage a strike and how to go about re-building the employment relationship. 

At this time of year, all employers who are "designated employers" in terms of the Employment Equity Act should be finalising their EE reports (EEA2 and EEA4) for submission before 15th January 2018. Therefore, this week's article by Ivan Israelstam is of great interest.  He explains why a Chinese employee is included for the definition of previously disadvantage, how the cases based upon affirmative action have been decided, and points out the very large penalty for a first offence of non-submission of the EE report.

Ivan Israelstam explains the many ways that communication can go astray between the CCMA and the employer - and the very expensive consequences of the mis-communication.  This week Ivan explains why it is essential for business owners and executives to take labour law seriously and ensure that all management and supervisory levels understand how to manage employees within the law. 

This week Ivan Israelstam uses a dismissal case that went from CCMA, to Labour Court, and finally to the Labour Appeal Court, but the dismissed employee was still re-instated - to explain the importance of handling investigations and disciplinary matters competently, and to ensure that any procedures at CCMA or courts are well prepared.  Above all to avoid emotion.  

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