Contributors

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.

Once a dispute has been lodged with the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). there are different stages in the process to achieve resolution: conciliation, or con-arb - conciliation and arbitration, or arbitration. This week Ivan Israelstam explains how a pre-arbitration meeting may assist in speeding up resolution - but also points to the risk involved.

As the economy fails to grow and consumers struggle to make ends meet, businesses may suffer a loss of sales and profits.  May the employer automatically retrench workers? This week Ivan Israelstam examines the requirements upon an employer before they consider retrenching employees.    

The word prejudice is used a great deal in the media, but there are certain legal implications of prejudice, prejudging, and implications for bias in disciplinary proceedings. Therefore, it is very important for employers to understand the dangers in not paying attention to these legal concepts. This week Ivan Israelstam explains the different meanings of these words, and how they are important for disciplinary proceedings, and for conducting matters at the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Employers sometimes know that misconduct has definitely taken place, but the employer can’t pinpoint the actual culprit/s. The temptation is to dismiss every employee, who may have possibly been involved. This week ivan Israelstam deals with cases where this has happened.

Employers need to make sure that they understand the implications of receiving a Con-Arb notice from the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).  This week Ivan Israelstam explains what the ConArb involves and how employers need to prepare.

This week Ivan Israelstam explains that employees have many rights, but there is also a fiduciary duty towards the employer.  He explains what this means, and why there is a stronger duty to be trustworthy upon the more senior the employee.  

 

Good practices during recruitment of new employees are critical to business success. One key issue is to obtain relevant documentary evidence of qualifications and the employer has the responsibility to ensure that the documents, such as qualifications and licences are genuine. Obtaining a history of the potential employee's past work experience may be more difficult and what will be considered relevant to the position may not always be clear.  This week Ivan Israelstam explains the complexities in establishing what is relevant. 

This week Ivan Israelstam looks at the Labour Relations and Employment Equity Acts to find the definition of workplace "victimisation". He answers a number of questions: What does this term mean? What actions by an employer could constitute victimisation? What are the implications for a constructive dismissal claim?

Employers generally are now respecting an employee's right to a disciplinary hearing before deciding upon dismissal.  The question is: who chairs the disciplinary hearing, that is: who is the presiding officer of the disciplinary hearing? How important is it that the presiding officer has not been involved in the events leading up to the disciplinary hearing? This week Ivan Israelstam answers these questions.

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.

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