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South Africa is facing record-high unemployment rates and a critical skills shortage. While several countries are experiencing what they call "the Great Resignation," South Africa's skills shortage is making news for ranking as a key global risk. This means the skills shortage can have a significant negative impact on our economy and industries for the next decade.


The days when learning was thought to be a passive process of receiving new ideas and information are long gone. Today, effective learning is energic, active and actionable, and promotes the application of new ideas and information. This type of learning is referred to as “active learning”.


In order to be effective at work we must start by realizing and admitting we have both strengths and weaknesses. Both issue impact either negatively or positively on our work and ability to work effectively.


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 suspects that a group of employees may be cooperating in some way - in dishonest acts to defraud the company financially, or remove property - there is the suspicion of collective guilt. This week Ivan Israelstam examines how the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and labour courts have viewed this kind of collective behaviour. Ivan uses cases won and lost to demonstrate how crucial it is to consider the circumstances of the particular case. A Labour Appeal Court case shows what the employer needs to successfully prove such a case.


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.


What is "whistle-blowing" , and when is it protected? This week Ivan Israelstam explains what legislation protects employees: not just the Protected Disclosures Act, but also the Labour Relations Act. Then Ivan  looks at cases, where the employee has disclosed information, and explains how the Labour Court and the Labour Appeal Court have dealt with such cases. 


 Labour law provides scant protection for employers. That is the opinion of Ivan Israelstam. This week Ivan explains why he holds that opinion, and gives advice to employers on how he believes they should react, and protect their businesses going forward.


What is a whistle blower? This week Ivan Israelstam addresses the Protected Disclosures Act, and how it affects employers and employees. Ivan provides examples from cases indicating how the court seeks to protect both employers and employees.


This week Ivan Israelstam looks at fixed term contracts. What happens when an employer is consulting with employees on means to reduce the need for retrenchment? Usually, there are calls for voluntary retrenchment, then employees on casual or temporary contracts are considered first before permanent employees. BUT,  Ivan cautions that may not be as simple as previously.


This week Ivan Israelstam explains that the CCMA has produced guidelines, which will guide the work of commissioners arbitrating dismissal disputes. The guidelines explain that rulings should be lawful, reasonable, and procedurally fair, which gives effect to the Constitutional right to fair administrative action (s33(1)).


This week Ivan Israelstam questions whether the parties at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) are meeting their collective responsibility to the nation.  NEDLAC is a statutory body established at the start of the new South African post-apartheid dispensation - in 1994. NEDLAC is intended to achieve public participation in the labour market, providing input to socio-economic policy and the attendant legislation. NEDLAC is responsible for a range of issues. In this article, Ivan considers how well NEDLAC is addressing the balance between unemployment reduction, and legislation providing security for those in employment. Not very well he concludes - see his reasoning. 


This week Ivan Israelstam offers his proposal on how employers and employees need to do to work together in their joint interest. The pandemic has certainly exposed the inequalities in our society. Given the magnitude of management and executive packages, the question raised is: are business owners and workers able to seek the consensus to achieve a more equitable distribution of reward.? Ivan indicates this requires both business owners and workers to change their uncooperative mindset.


A very timeous report by Ivan Israelstam on what employers should take into account when managing employees from home. How should productively be managed, and what should management be aware of in this new world of work?


This week,  Ivan Israelstam applies decided cases of the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to explain what should be considered before an employer takes a decision to dismiss an employee. The examples also highlight some inconsistecies in the decisions of the CCMA, which do make the employer's job more difficult.


This week Ivan Israelstam lists the type of services that employers can expect from a labour law expert, and what qualifications a reputable lawyer or consultant should hold.


A very topical question this week. Ivan Israelstam provides his assessment of why business owners and managers will want to have everyone vaccinated, and he addresses the legal questions - the rights afforded to individuals by our Constitution.  How will these be balanced against the requirements that employers provide a safe working environment? Ivan notes that section 36 of the Constitution may reasonably limit the individual rights.  


This week, Ivan Israelstam starts the 2021 year with a question on disciplinary hearing procedures. What is hearsay evidence? What is the consequence of using hearsay evidence? Is hearsay evidence ever acceptable?  


One of the reactions of employers to difficult economic times is often to "restructure" - to reduce the number of positions in the company and retrench the newly surplus staff. Ivan Israelstam explores the legal requirements and pitfalls to avoid.


South African labour law - often criticised for restricting recruitment because employers believe that they cannot dismiss an employee. Whereas, as Ivan Israelstam points out, investing the time and money into good quality training on labour law for management, will pay off many times over in costs saved from adverse CCMA and Bargaining Council decisions.

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