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labour court

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.  

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