consultation

This week Ivan Israelstam explains the process an exployer should adopt if a retrenchment of employees is contemplated. He explains what the steps are to be followed, to ensure that the employer complies with the requirements of the Labour Relations Act for what is an operational requirements dismissal.

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.  

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. 

Over a long period of time, many employers will be able to recall employees, who have not fitted in well in the organisational culture - despite being qualified for the position. However, sometimes the responsibility for not being able to get on with other employees does not rest with the employee, but elsewhere - and possibly with the manager or boss. This week Ivan Israelstam provides a practical example of the limits of managerial prerogative, and how any apparent incompatibility should be identified and handled. He also explains how this differs from misconduct such as the refusal to follow company rules..

Management, executives, and company boards do not always agree on an appropriate method to deal with senior employees when a company suffers a financial downturn. This week Ivan Israelstam points out how important it is to investigate the facts before deciding on the correct path to follow. A company should not agree on a retrenchment and then try also to dismiss for some form of misconduct or lack of performance.

Employers may retrench employees for reasons of economic, structural, or technological reasons, in terms of the Labour Relations Act and the Code of Good Practice on Operational Requirements Dismissals. The Labour Appeal Court has stated that retrenchment has a serious impact upon employees. Decisions on retrenchment therefore have to be made based upon sound objective criteria, which emerge after consultation with the parties concerned, and are backed by evidence. Ivan Israelstam sets out the issues determined by the courts in two cases.

Using retrenchment as a means of dealing with poor performers is not only risky and potentially very expensive, but also represents a failure of management. This week Ivan Israelstam explains what constitutes fair criteria for retrenchment and the possible costs to an employer of failing to conduct a procedurally fair consultation.

Ivan Israelstam

The term ‘shop steward’ is a colloquial one and refers to the employee elected as the workplace representative by fellow employees who belong to the relevant trade union. The Labour Relations Act (LRA) officially refers to shop stewards as “trade union representatives”, and section 14 of the LRA gives these representatives (shop stewards) a number of special rights.

Ivan Israelstam

A retrenchment is considered a "no fault" dismissal. Therefore, while it may become necessary for a company to retrench, every consideration should be given to alternatives to retrenchment. This applies particularly to employees with long service, and also to employees who have the skills required to maintain and develop the business. Ivan Israelstam what aspects should be considered by companies before deciding on a path of retrenchment

Ivan Israelstam

While retrenchments may be considered necessary for a company, it is critical that employers understand the rights of employees in these circumstances, and the appropriate procedures to adopt to ensure that these rights are protected. Ivan Israelstam explains the three factors at the very heart of protecting the rights of employees.

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