unfair dismissal

Employers sometimes become emotional about an employee, and will manipulate circumstances to achieve a dismissal. One of the ways of doing this is to put further allegations against an employee, when the matter has previously been decided. Ivan Israemstam quotes a number of cases to illustrate the point of when re-doing hearings is justifiable - and how employers may lose if they manipulate the circumstances.

When an arbitrator finds that an employee as been unfairly dismissed, the award will require the employee to be re-instated - unless there are conditions preventing reinstatement. This week Ivan Israelstam indicates the practical and psychological implications for the employer of having a re-instated employee within the workforce.

The start of a new calendar year is a good time for employers to review company policies and procedures. This week Ivan Israelstam explains the value of a disciplinary code to set out the rules of the employer. The employer should then ensure that all management and employees are trained in the interpretation of the rules. Employees need to be educated in the implications and sanctions if they break the rules.   

When will it be fair to dismiss an employee for poor performance? What is poor performance? What are the employer's rights in setting the performance standard and what are the employer's responsibility towards employees?  This week Ivan Israelstam responds to these critical questions that apply to all employers and explains what the employer will need to be able to demonstrate to a CCMA commissioner in an unfair dismissal arbitration. 

Employers may believe that by using a fixed-term contract, they will avoid having to permanently employ a person. However, this week Ivan Israelstam explains how an employer can inadvertently guarantee a temporary employee a reasonable expectation of further employment.

In common law employers and employees have the obligation to treat each other fairly and within the law. What does that mean? This week Ivan Israelstam explains very clearly what the obligations are for both employers and employees. The CCMA arbitrators and the Labour Court and Labour Appeal Court judges will not take kindly to parties to do bring forward an accurate account of events, or are shown to have not met their obligations. 

Disciplinary hearings can be difficult situations for employers to handle.  Management who have been trained in the labour law and disciplinary processes stand the best chance of managing the difficulties that may arise. This week Ivan Israelstam makes these points and how disciplinary disruptions should be handled.

Sex related acts not always sexual harassment - that is the outcome of a case Ivan Israelstam examines this week.  This case indicates how important it is to ensure that disciplinary action is taken timeously.  A delay - and allowing the employee to continue working - would indicate that the trust relationship is not broken. Therefore, dismissal may be found to be unfair.

This week Ivan Israelstam persuades employers to protect themselves by joining an employer organisation - so that they have protection at the CCMA. Ivan expresses the opinion that labour law provides very little protection for employers and that the protection of employees has been increasing over time. He provides examples from the cases.

 

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.

Employers who conclude employment contracts, and then terminate the contract for some reason prior to the employee commencing work, need to be aware that the CCMA and Labour Courts will regard this as a dismissal. The meaning of the wording "...works for ..." has been interpreted to include after the contract has been signed, but before actual work has begun. This week Ivan Israelstam explains further.

This week Ivan Israelstam demonstrates one of the results of many years of advising employers on disciplinary procedures, namely knowing the many unfair methods unscrupulous employers may use to "dismiss" employees. As Ivan explains using a biased (pre-briefed) presiding officer for a disciplinary hearing is highly likely to backfire when the dispute reaches the CCMA or bargaining council.

Employers may be surprised to find that there are costs that may accrue when they fail to follow correct disciplinary procedures in dismissing employees. There may be Conflict Dispute Resolution Centre - attached to Bargaining Councils (CDR) or Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) costs. This week Ivan Israelstam explains what the potential costs are when employers fail to follow the requirements for dismissing employees for a fair reason and following a fair procedure.

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