labour court

This article explains the challenges labour brokers experience, when the employer refuses to accept the person, who has been placed at their site.

Ivan Israelstam

Although there is a formal Code of Good Practice for Dismissal it is also possible to have a less formal approach to disciplinary procedures in certain circumstances.

"Whistleblowing" - not the making of noise with a little mouth toy - making a report, which "exposes secretive information or activity that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct within a private or public organization" (Wikipaedia definition). What are the consequences of an employee making a report about something happening reporting on administrative, or other actions, which are being carried out in the organisation, or institution of their employer? Ivan Israelstam explains how the Protected Disclosures Act, protects whistleblowers, but also how employers are protected.

Two important issues are raised his week by Ivan Israelstam - first that employers should not use retrenchment as an excuse to deal with their failure to manage employee performance, and when conducting restructuring and retrenchment exercises, there are clear steps to be followed to consult with employees - these include consultation, information sharing, and consideration of alternatives. For details on the requirements - see Labour Relations Act sections 189 and 189A, and the Code of Good Practice on Operational Requirements Dismissals.

Ivan Israelstam explains in detail employee rights in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), and how the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and the Labour Court may approach disputes, which combine BCEA disputes, with matters under the Labour Relations Act (LRA), such as unfair dismissal disputes.   

What is required to suspend an employee from work?  This week Ivan Israelstam explains how employers can cause themselves very expensive problems by losing their temper and treating employees unfairly.  

This week Ivan Istraelstam explains all of the dispute resolution bodies, and the fees and costs for an employer who is found to have unfairly dismissed an employee.

As with all disciplines, labour law has its own terminology. What does "hiding behind the corporate veil" mean? Ivan Israelstam explains how employers sometimes seek to hide the true nature of a business practice, and how the CCMA, bargaining councils, and labour courts will respond.   

In medium to large size companies, there will usually be a number of specialist departments. It is critical that employees within the company understand that any communication arriving from the CCMA should be passed on to the person designated to deal with CCMA matters. Failing to attend an arbitration hearing may well have serious - and expensive - consequences for the company. Ivan Israelstam provides cases to demonstrate the consequences of employer non-attendance.

What are the policies that an employer should have in place to deal with allegations by an employee of sexual harassment? What steps should the employer take if they receive an allegation, and is dismissal always the correct disciplinary action? This week Ivan Israelstam provides guidance for employers.

Once a recruitment decision is made, the next step is to conclude an employment contract. Has employment started and does the new employee have rights from the date of signing the contract? What is the guidance of the labour courts? 

When is a dismissal justified - and what circumstances need to be taken into account before an employer decides to dismiss an employee? Various courts have confirmed that the circumstances do matter. So it is not possible to simply state X action requires dismissal. Ivan Israelstam provides examples to illustrate how an employer should consider all the circumstances before coming to a decision.  

The key document for employers to follow when taking disciplinary action, is the Code of Good Practice: Dismissal (The Code), contained in Schedule 8 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA). This should be read in conjunction with the employer's own Disciplinary Procedure. This week Ivan Israelstam uses cases to explain the difficulties that arise should an employee request to be represented by a lawyer at the internal disciplinary enquiry. 

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.  

This week Ivan provides examples from decided cases of what would not be sufficient to justify dismissal, or make the continued employment relationship intolerable. This is compared with how the Labour Appeal Court has approached allegations of racism, or racist language as:  “an anathema to sound industrial relations and a severe and degrading attack on the dignity of the employees in question”. 

This week, Ivan Israelstam uses examples of cases from the CCMA, the Labour Court and the Labour Appeal Court, to explain how decisions can be overturned from one court to the other. Ivan explains why it is important for employers to have an understanding of the pattern of decisions, to understand what is clearly decided, and what is still uncertain - in order to be able to identify what is relevant to their own cases. 

A disruptive employee can influence company performance, reduce productivity, and upset fellow employees to the extent that they may leave. It is important for employers not to ignore an incompatibiiy problem, and before dismissing an employee - ensure that evidence has been obtained to confirm that the employee is the source of the incompatibility. Ivan Israelstam quotes a number of cases that illustrate how employers have gone wrong in the past. 

Are there different requirements for disciplinary action against a shop steward, and if so - what are the differences? That is the question Ivan Israelstam addresses this week. Essentially not all infractions by a shop steward would amount to gross misconduct. One example is the shop steward's position during negotiations - in that forum the shop steward addresses management as an equal. So using strong terms to reject management's proposal would not be insubordination. Ivan quotes cases to explain the differences between dismissing a shop steward and dismissing an employee.

Businesses - or part of a business - are taken over by new concerns, or required services are outsourced. Then the service provider may be replaced by a second service provider. When do these business transfers fall under section 197 of the Labour Relations Act? Ivan Israelstam explains why it is so important to understand what business transfers are defined as transfers as a going concern.  

Not only employers, but also union officials and employees sometimes wonder what the words in the employment legislation mean. This is also seen in differences between the Labour Court and the CCMA and bargaining council arbitrators. This week Ivan provides examples of how the different acts aren't always clear.  

All employers need to be aware of RICA. This week Ivan Israelstam explains what RICA is, and what the implications are for employers who want to intercept an employee's emails, or listen to phone calls. What are the implications if an employer simply goes ahead without understanding the legal constraints?

When an employer dismisses an employee it is vitally important that the decision to dismiss is based upon solid evidence that is directly related to the reason to dismiss.  This week Ivan Israelstam explains what can go wrong in a CCMA Arbitration, or Labour Court review if the evidence is not relevant to the dismissal decision - or the CCMA arbitrator has failed to consider the relevant evidence. 

Sometimes employees do come in to work and declare that they are resigning with immediate effect. This can be for a number of personal reasons, irritation with management, and so on.  This week Ivan Israelstam explains the potential implications for employers when this occurs.

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 gives examples of fair discrimination.  Then explains how one employer was able to successfully defend against an allegation of unfair discrimination, and another employer could not defend against a dismissal that was found to be an automatically unfair dismissal. 

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