Contributors

This week, Ivan Israelstam uses examples of cases from the CCMA, the Labour Court and the Labour Appeal Court, to explain how decisions can be overturned from one court to the other. Ivan explains why it is important for employers to have an understanding of the pattern of decisions, to understand what is clearly decided, and what is still uncertain - in order to be able to identify what is relevant to their own cases. 

What is a conflict of interest, and may an employer dismiss an employee if there is a conflict of interest? This week Ivan Israelstam explains exactly what is required before a dismissal for conflict of interest will be sustainable at the CCMA. 

Don’t underestimate the power of trade unions. That is the advice of Ivan Israelstam. How should shop stewards be treated? Is it possible to discipline shop stewards? Are there additional requirements before disciplining a shop steward? Is it possible to dismiss a shop steward? This week Ivan explains the rights and responsibilities of shop stewards, and uses an example of a shop steward dismissal he defended successfully at CCMA.

When an employer is faced with an employee who fails to perform, the Labour Relations Act sets out specific requirements to be fulfilled before the employer contemplates dismissal. These requirements are followed by a fair procedure. This week Ivan Israelstam explains what the requirements are, and how poor performance should be handled. 

Strikes are disruptive to companies and are costly to employers and employees. This week Ivan explains why private arbitration can be very beneficial in preventing strikes, and he explains the limitations of the CCMA and bargaining councils in dealing with issues.

Are there different requirements for disciplinary action against a shop steward, and if so - what are the differences? That is the question Ivan Israelstam addresses this week. Essentially not all infractions by a shop steward would amount to gross misconduct. One example is the shop steward's position during negotiations - in that forum the shop steward addresses management as an equal. So using strong terms to reject management's proposal would not be insubordination. Ivan quotes cases to explain the differences between dismissing a shop steward and dismissing an employee.

When an arbitrator finds that an employee as been unfairly dismissed, the award will require the employee to be re-instated - unless there are conditions preventing reinstatement. This week Ivan Israelstam indicates the practical and psychological implications for the employer of having a re-instated employee within the workforce.

The start of a new calendar year is a good time for employers to review company policies and procedures. This week Ivan Israelstam explains the value of a disciplinary code to set out the rules of the employer. The employer should then ensure that all management and employees are trained in the interpretation of the rules. Employees need to be educated in the implications and sanctions if they break the rules.   

Businesses - or part of a business - are taken over by new concerns, or required services are outsourced. Then the service provider may be replaced by a second service provider. When do these business transfers fall under section 197 of the Labour Relations Act? Ivan Israelstam explains why it is so important to understand what business transfers are defined as transfers as a going concern.  

This week Ivan Israelstam explains why it is important for an employer not only to refer bribery and corruption activities to the SAPS, but also to conduct an internal disciplinary hearing before terminating the services of an employee. 

Not only employers, but also union officials and employees sometimes wonder what the words in the employment legislation mean. This is also seen in differences between the Labour Court and the CCMA and bargaining council arbitrators. This week Ivan provides examples of how the different acts aren't always clear.  

All employers need to be aware of RICA. This week Ivan Israelstam explains what RICA is, and what the implications are for employers who want to intercept an employee's emails, or listen to phone calls. What are the implications if an employer simply goes ahead without understanding the legal constraints?

When an employer dismisses an employee it is vitally important that the decision to dismiss is based upon solid evidence that is directly related to the reason to dismiss.  This week Ivan Israelstam explains what can go wrong in a CCMA Arbitration, or Labour Court review if the evidence is not relevant to the dismissal decision - or the CCMA arbitrator has failed to consider the relevant evidence. 

What are employee entitlements to sick leave? How should an employer handle the various forms of illness? These could be physical, emotional, mental illnesses. This week Ivan explains how an employer should approach employees with an extended, or recurring mental or emotional illness.  

Sometimes employees do come in to work and declare that they are resigning with immediate effect. This can be for a number of personal reasons, irritation with management, and so on.  This week Ivan Israelstam explains the potential implications for employers when this occurs.

There is a need for assessors and moderators to be qualified and registered. Many in the education sector seem to overlook the distinction between these two terms.

Employers do sometimes find it difficult to prove at CCMA hearings the allegations they make against employees, who have been dismissed. One of the most common forms of evidence used in modern workplaces is camera videotape evidence.  However, this is not without problems. This week Ivan Israelstam quotes cases where the camera videotape type evidence has been challenged.  

When employers are faced with financial challenges, and contemplate retrenching employees, it is critical for the employer to first consult on alternatives to avoid retrenchment. Ivan Israelstam explains what is required, and how employers should consider alternatives. If the employee makes proposals, which the employer does not accept, it is necessary that the employer provides a response on why the alternative proposed is not a viable option.    

This week Ivan Israelstam points out that the CCMA and bargaining councils do have the jurisdiction to decide upon retrenchment disputes, if there is a failure to agree at conciliation. This arises from the amendments to the Labour Relations Act in 2002. It is critical that employers follow a fair procedure and not simply go ahead with retrenchments without engaging in a fair consultation process.  

This week Ivan Israelstam gives examples of fair discrimination.  Then explains how one employer was able to successfully defend against an allegation of unfair discrimination, and another employer could not defend against a dismissal that was found to be an automatically unfair dismissal. 

The sale of a business - or part of a business - may take place when a company is in financial difficulty, and wanting to restructure to avoid going into liquidation.  The new owner may want to reduce the staff complement - but the Labour Relations Act makes any retrenchment as a result of a transfer of a going concern an unfair dismissal. Who is responsible - the old or new employer? Ivan Israelstam explains further.

This week Ivan Israelstam explains why labour brokers must change focus in order to remain viable businesses. The Constitutional Court has clarified that the client is now responsible for workers, who have worked for the client for more than three months. Even though they may be provided by labour brokers, those workers must be treated on equal terms with the comparable permanent workers. 

Employers may be relieved when an employee confesses to some misdemeanour, and assume that a dismissal will then automatically be justified.  This week Ivan Isrealstam explains why this is not so. There are a number of reasons why an employer cannot simply go ahead and dismiss the employee. 

This week Ivan Israelstam provides examples from the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitrator and the Labour Court to explain the complexity of decisions on what may be considered as an unfair labour practice.  

This week Ivan Israelstam explains how the word "unfair" is interpreted in labour law, and why it is so important for employers to understand what is regarded as unfair and what is automatically unfair. This is particularly important for employers to understand in relation to reasons for dismissal.

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