labour law

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.

Employers and trade union officials, who present matters at the CCMA, will be interested in the list of powers, which Ivan Israelstam has listed.  Questions are answered, such as: Is the CCMA Commissioner empowered to overturn a dismissal decision?  

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.   

This week, Ivan Israelstam lays out the procedures for an arbitration hearing, and the explains why it is critical to present evidence to support your case. 

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.  

"Hearing chairpersons should not count their chickens before they hatch" is good advice. This week Ivan Israelstam, how - and why - some employers try to manipulate the disciplinary process, and the potential consequences if this advice is not heeded. 

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.

There is a national strategy to improve skills and knowledge, to support people to find employment, and reduce unemployment. Learning programmes to achieve this, include apprenticeships, learnerships, graduate work programmes, in-service experience as part of a qualification. The people on these programmes are required to have an employment contract for the duration of the programme. What are the implications of that "employment" contract?

This week Ivan Israelstam explains the process an exployer should adopt if a retrenchment of employees is contemplated. He explains what the steps are to be followed, to ensure that the employer complies with the requirements of the Labour Relations Act for what is an operational requirements dismissal.

What is a transfer of a business, and what are the implications for the new owner of the business? This week Ivan Israelstam uses examples of cases to explain the expensive consequences for a business owner, who does not follow the requirements of the Labour Relations Act. 

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.

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? 

Employees may be hired on a variety of different forms of contract. This week Ivan Israelstam explains what the implications of the various contracts are, when employers are not happy with employee performance and seek to terminate the contract. 

There are a number of ways that employers attempt to avoid agreeing permanent contracts with employees, for example: the use of fixed term contracts, or contracting with labour brokers to provide workers. Ivan Israelstam suggests that these actions are a reaction to difficulties in the ability of employers to dismiss permanent employees. He quotes cases to illustrate this point. 

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. 

There are a number of reasons why employers might suspend an employee. This week Ivan Israelstam deals with these questions: What are the reasons for suspension? What are the risks associated with each reason?

This week Ivan Israelstam explains the background to the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) Guidelines. What is the purpose of publication of the guidelines, and what are some of the important items included in the document? The guidelines are intended to ensure greater consistency in Commissioners' arbitration decisions, and meet the Constitutional right of employers to fair administrative action. In conclusion, Ivan reinforces that the onus to prove a fair dismissal rests with the employer.  

The CCMA Guidelines: Misconduct Arbitrations (The Guidelines) states that it is not unfair for employers to use third parties such as attorneys to chair disciplinary hearings. However, these highly important guidelines do not give disciplinary hearing chairpersons the right to conduct such hearings in a biased manner. The Guidelines oblige Commissioners to assess whether workplace dismissals are fair or unfair, and it is difficult to see how such dismissals can be fair if the presiding officer is biased and if it is shown that such bias results directly in prejudice to the employee.

 

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