disciplinary procedures

When may an employee reasonably refuse an instruction? When will a refusal to carry out an instruction be insubordination? Important questions for an employer to be clear about - to avoid launching into disciplinary action that will be unfair.

Employers do become emotionally involved in some of the serious disciplinary cases at the workplace. So as Ivan Israelstam points out, it is very important to have a trained person to chair disciplinary hearings. It is important to understand the requirements of Schedule 8, which requires a two step process - first to prove what happened, and then to consider all circumstances before taking the decision to dismiss. That is the requirement of considering mitigating factors.  

There are a number of reasons why an employer might find a mutually agreed termination more time effective or efficient than other disciplinary procedures.  However, the employer should be very careful not to confuse a retrenchment situation - with very specific procedural requirements - and a genuine mutually agreed termination of the employment relationship. Importantly, such an end of the contract is not legally classed as a dismissal. Ivan Israelstam explains.

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.   

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).

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 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.  

Leadership skills and organisational ability are required by a union organiser as much as a supervisor or manager. Employer development and promotion policies and practices are likely then to identify someone who is a union member for promotion to a managerial or supervisory position. This week Ivan Israelstam quotes from a Labour Court case, which covers the employee rights and how the employer should handle the apparent conflict of interest.

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