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labour law

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.

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.

Leadership skills and organisational ability are required by a union organiser as much as a supervisor or manager. Employer development and promotion policies and practices are likely then to identify someone who is a union member for promotion to a managerial or supervisory position. This week Ivan Israelstam quotes from a Labour Court case, which covers the employee rights and how the employer should handle the apparent conflict of interest.

Do not dilly dally in bringing disciplinary charges. This is the advice of Ivan Israelstam, who explains exactly why disciplinary action should be timeous - not overly hasty, but definitely not long overdue. This week, Ivan explains what to take into account and how to achieve this balance.

If an employer assumes that an imprisoned employee has simply dismissed themselves, or absconded, the employer will not be on firm legal ground to dismiss the employee. This week Ivan Israelstam explains how the CCMA and bargaining council commissioners have dealt with such dismissals.

Why do some employers regards employees as an expense rather than an investment to nurture and retain? This week Ivan Israelstam explores the costs to an employer of non-compliance with labour laws, and gives constructive advice to employers on how to adopt a balanced approach.

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 Code of Good Practice on Dismissal (Schedule 8 of the Labour Relations Act) provides the guidelines for employers to follow in disciplinary proceedings. This code does not specifically require "cross-examination" but does provide that the employee must be aware of the allegations against them, to understand them, and be given a chance to state their side of the story - or defence - in response to the allegations.This week Ivan Israelstam explains the meaning of "cross-examination" and provides advice on how employers should proceed.

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 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.

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