labour court

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While it can be extremely difficult to not immediately sign on the dotted line after getting your job offer, the importance of reading your contract thoroughly and understanding the terms of your contract cannot be understated.

 


The law makes it essential for employers to act with great care and expertise in gathering evidence and in designing and applying their disciplinary policies. The Labour Courts are most intolerant of employers who do not follow their own disciplinary policies and who cannot justify their dismissal decisions based on the facts of the case at hand.

 


There are many different reasons that employers lose at arbitration despite their confidence that they would win. Some of those reasons include:


Pregnant employees are strongly protected under South African law. There are no fewer than six pieces of legislation that require employers to treat pregnant and post-pregnant employees with the greatest of care. One of these pieces of legislation is the Code Of Good Practice On The Protection Of Employees During Pregnancy And After The Birth Of A Child (The Code).


Disciplinary warnings are given with a view to correcting employee behaviour. But, what is the difference if the employer policy says that warnings have an expiry period and must be removed from files, or alternatively, the warning expires but if kept on record. Will this be relevant? Just one of the questions on warnings that Ivan Israelstam addresses this week.  


 Labour law provides scant protection for employers. That is the opinion of Ivan Israelstam. This week Ivan explains why he holds that opinion, and gives advice to employers on how he believes they should react, and protect their businesses going forward.


This week Ivan Israelstam explains the history of a case, which went all the way through to the Constitutional Court. The case concerned employers' rights over dismissal decisions. Ivan explains the final outcome.


Employees do sometimes lay frivolous and vexatious claims against employers at the CCMA.  However, employees who do so may be ordered to pay the employer's legal costs. Even so, the employer should not give employees easy claims by failing to behave legally and responsively; and should definitely not underestimate the importance of preparing a response - even if the employees claims are spurious.


Ivan Israelstam illustrates with examples, why it is necessary for employers to ensure that incidents requiring disciplinary hearings, are fully investigated; and the evidence is collated and prepared ready for presentation. Failure to complete the investigation, the preparation, and the presentation steps is highly likely to lead to dismissed employees being reinstated by the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration. 


The Labour Court has defined 3 important characteristics of  incompatibility at the workplace. This week Ivan Israelstam expands upon each of the 3 characteristics, and explains what should be taken into account before dismissing an employee, and how incompatibility relates to incapacity.  


 Dismissing employees who have been arrested can be dangerous. That is the view of Ivan Israelstam, who this week explains why he makes that statement. He provides examples from the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Abitration (CCMA), bargaining council, Labour Court and Labour Appeal Court, so that employers can see exactly how they should interpret their obligations.


What is the value that employees potentially add to a business, or organisation? What should employers do in order to maximise that value? What are the potential financial implications if employers do not follow the guidelines that Ivan Israelstam lays out? Ivan explains further. 


Absent employees do constitute a problem for employers, particularly is the absence is frequently repeated. The employer is required, however, to ensure that the rights of absent employees are adhered to - before dismissing them from the company. Ivan Israelstam explains that the courts have repeatedly confirmed - an employee cannot dismiss themselves. So before taking the decision to dismiss an employee, it is necessary for employers to do everything possible to make contact with the absent employee, and to advise them of their rights to a hearing. 


This week Ivan Israelstam expresses his interpretation of Code of Good Conduct: Dismissal; that is: Schedule 8 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA). While cross examination is a constitutional right afforded to accused persons in courts of law, and extended to bargaining council and Commission for the Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) arbitrations, it is not clear whether this right extends to disciplinary hearings. Ivan explains his view of whether the Code provides for cross examination at disciplinary hearings.  


Ivan Israelstam quotes from two cases of the same employer, with similar facts, but with different outcomes. Read carefully the facts that Ivan lays out to see how you would have acted in your company. 


This week Ivan Israelstam provides his interpretation of the Constitutional section of the Bill of Rights providing that "Everyone is equal before the law". Does "Everyone" include a juristic person - that is an employer. He goes on to explain how the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and the Labour Court have responded to his opinion.


This week Ivan Israelstam explains exactly why employers who have disciplinary procedures - and put those disciplinary procedures in the employee's contract - need to make absolutely sure that they follow exactly the procedures that have been set out. The Labour Court will take a dim view of employers who simply make minimal effort to ensure that the procedures are followed.


"I'll give you a warning". That is something heard by employees, when a supervisor or manager makes the statement as a threat because they are frustrated with the behaviour or non-compliance of an employee. This week Ivan Israelstam explains exactly how warnings should be viewed, and when different levels of warning are appropriate. 


This week Ivan Israelstam explains what these terms of the Labour Relations Act section 213 mean - economic, technological, structural or similar needs of the employer.


When business conditions change, employers may want to change the terms and conditions of employment of the employees. This week Ivan Israelstam explains what employers should not do in these circumstances. 

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