dismissal

What rights does an employer have to discipline an employee for misconduct outside the workplace? What will be taken into account when an employee commits an offence - or a related crime - outside the workplace? This week Ivan Israelstam explains what factors will be taken into account by the CCMA. 

This week Ivan Israelstam persuades employers to protect themselves by joining an employer organisation - so that they have protection at the CCMA. Ivan expresses the opinion that labour law provides very little protection for employers and that the protection of employees has been increasing over time. He provides examples from the cases.

 

Ivan Israelstam

Employers sometimes think that employing a person on a fixed-term contract will save the company any obligations in terms of labour law. Under employment equity legislation and codes, there are already implications for employing people on long term contracts in what are permanent positions. This week Ivan Israelstam explains the implications of a Labour Court decision, which finds the employer did not have a right to terminate a fixed-term contract before the end of the term.  

Ivan Israelstam

Many employers will be able to provide examples of how employees ignore or don't comply with requests or instructions. When does failure to comply with instructions constitute sufficient grounds for dismissal?  This week Ivan Israelstam quotes from actual CCMA cases, where employees have been re-instated. Ivan highlights the challenge employers face - achieving a fair dismissal acceptable to the CCMA.  

Labour brokers - or temporary employment services (TES) - provide staff to companies, but sometimes fail to realise that they are also bound by the rquirements of labour law as employer. In addition to the legislation there may also be additional bargaining council determinations, which set conditions such as minimum wage rates. This week Ivan Israelstam explains how the CCMA has decided dismissal arbitrations involving labour brokers.

In dismissal or other disputes, when employers believe that the employee is not telling the truth or misrepresenting the facts related to the case, it is very important that employers take it very seriously and carefully prepare their own case, so that the Commissioner is able to reach the correct conclusion. Ivan Israelstam explains further.

This week Ivan Israelstam provides examples of how under-prepared, or inexperienced and untrained employers go wrong - and the financial an industrial relations implications when dismissed employees are re-instated.

Employers who use consecutive fixed-term contracts for an employee, and then don't issue one for whatever reason - need to understand that the CCMA Commissioners will regard that employee as being permanent. This is just one of the examples that Ivan Israelstam quotes this week to explain why employers should not misuse fixed-term contracts. Using a fixed-term contract for probationary purposes is also not correct. Where the position is permanent; probation should be covered by a probationary clause in a permanent contract. There is also a requirement to provide instruction, guidance and counselling prior to reaching a dismissal decision for poor performance during the probationary period.

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..

What should an employer do when an employee is absent from the workplace for an extended period? What is the attitude of the CCMA if an employer dismisses the employee in his/her absence? What constitututes a resignation by an employee? There are many permutations to these questions. This week Ivan Israelstam points to some of the dangers in these cases, and cautions employers not to act in anger or in haste.

The South African Constitution provides employees with the right to fair labour practices. Prior to a dismissal decision an employee should be made aware of the allegations against him/her and given chance to be heard on the matter.

When does South African labour law apply? This week Ivan gives us a number of examples where foreign firms thought - incorrectly - that they could do as they please with their employees. No - not so. Ivan demonstrates through a number of cases where these employers made some very serious - and extremely expensive - mistakes. Our courts found that they did have jurisdiction and the defaulting employers paid the employees' costs - in addition to all the other costs.

When employers include disciplinary policy, procedures and codes in employment contracts, it is especially important that the employer follow their own documented procedures. Failure to follow their own procedures will call into question the status of the dismissal of employees. In this case Ivan Israelstam details how the Labour Court judge analysed the failures of both the employer, and the CCMA arbitrator, who supported the dismissal.

Employers would be unwise to assume that just because an employee already has a final written warning on file, that the employer can simply go ahead and process a dismissal. This week Ivan Isralstam explains the complexities to be taken into account - such as the validity of the final written warning.

Employers may feel that an assault does always merit dismissal of the offender's employment. This week Ivan Israelstam explains why this may not always be the case, and why the CCMA arbitrator may re-instate a dismissed employee. He explains the procedural and substantive issues that need to be considered.

Employers who conclude employment contracts, and then terminate the contract for some reason prior to the employee commencing work, need to be aware that the CCMA and Labour Courts will regard this as a dismissal. The meaning of the wording "...works for ..." has been interpreted to include after the contract has been signed, but before actual work has begun. This week Ivan Israelstam explains further.

Employers may view probation as a means of easily terminating employees, who don't quite "fit in" or don't meet company standards. There are clearly set out requirements for employers to comply with before dismissing a probationary employee. This week Ivan Israelstam explains what happens when the James Bond type employer meets the CCMA commissioner.

Employers deal with a range of issues related to illness, for example: a genuinely ill employee who obtains a certificate from a bogus medical practitioner, or a traditional healer; or an employee who is not ill at all but obtains a fake medical certificate; or an employee who was ill but who extends the time given on a genuine certificate by altering the date - such as from a 1 to an 11 to obtain more days off. This week Ivan Israelstam explains the approach of CCMA Commissioners, and when disciplinary action may be taken.

The circumstances of every disciplinary enquiry are different - as are the personal circumstances of the employee involved. Therefore before deciding upon a dismissal decision, the chairperson of a disciplinary enquiry needs to take into account a range of factors in addition to what occurred. Ivan Israelstam explains how the CCMA and bargaining councils have given guidance on how extenuating circumstances should be taken into account.

An employer may think that by offering an employee a fixed term contract, they will be able to simply terminate the employee at the end of the contract. However, as Ivan Israelstam explains it depends upon the circumstances and company policy and practice. An employer may inadvertently give a temporary employee an expectation of further employment.

Insubordination is generally considered to be a serious offence. That is because it involves a refusal to obey a lawful and reasonable instruction of someone more senior in the hierarchy of the organisation. Refusal to follow the instruction may be seen as undermining the legitimate authority of a manager or supervisor. However this week Ivan Israelstam explains why it is important to consider the circumstances of each specific case before deciding that a dismissal is the appropriate response.

Not all employees behave perfectly every day. Employers are required to deal with employees that may be disruptive for a range of personal or work-related reasons. It is important for employers to remain calm at all time, not to overreact, and to follow their disciplinary procedure at all times. This week Ivan Israelstam explains further why this advice is so important.

The service that labour brokers provide is to find and to place workers with a business. But what happens when there is an incident and the business no longer wants to accept the worker who has been placed with them? Ivan Israelstam explains the findings of a case where exactly this scenario occurred.

Ivan Israelstam

This week Ivan Israelstam makes the case that labour law has become more restrictive upon employers. He explains that those who have used repeated fixed term contracts should no longer do that - only employ on a fixed term contract where there is a genuine short term job. Secondly, using labour brokers - TES or temporary employment services - has also become more restrictive and difficult as a result of the latest labour law amendments.

Ivan Israelstam

This week Ivan Israelstam explains: what may be considered a mitigating factor, why it is important, and how the employer needs to take these factors into account. He explains why it is important that chairpersons of disciplinary enquiries are suitably trained to meet these challenges - what mitigating factors to consider, and how to give them due weight.

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