Employers in South Africa: Solving problems in the work-place
Employers in South Africa may have endless problems with their employees either not attending to their work properly, on time or harassing etc their co-workers. Most of these problems may be alleviated by simply ensuring that the right employee is employed in the first place and further ensuring that correct contracts and labour procedures are in place.
During the interview process the Employer should have a clear understanding of the job he or she is interviewing the person for. One of the most important things is to check their credit record (with the necessary permission) as well as previous employment history. Many employers may list their employees as bad workers and without doing due-diligence, when an Employer hires a new Employee, you may be opening up a Pandora’s Box.
After a proper interview and reference checking procedure the savvy employer should ensure that adequate and proper contracts are in place with the relevant employee. This means a proper Employment Agreement, Restraint of Trade, Confidentiality Agreement and other very important Agreements and Clauses are in place and duly signed.
Equally important is to ensure that an adequate Disciplinary Code and Grievance Procedure is in place and signed by the Employee. This code clearly sets out what an Employee should not do (and also should do). It sets out what should take place if a grievance is lodged and also how to go about lodging grievances.
When it comes to discipline in the work-place, it is not as simple as just firing someone. The correct legal procedure must be followed, such as Warnings where necessary and Disciplinary Inquiries when required. Employees also need to know how to lodge complaints against co-workers when those co-workers have failed to do their work properly or on time and thus causing their co-worker to hand in reports late or not have accurate reports etc to work with. More serious grievances such as sexual harassment may also arise and the Employee and Employer should both know and be aware of how to address these serious issues.
It is important to note that an Employee always has a right to put his side before the Employer. The Employer cannot simply just hand out warnings etc without allowing the Employee an opportunity to put his side forward. Of course, this does not mean that an Employee can simply put any version before the Employer and thus escape liability. The employees version should be checked and verified with relevant evidence such as emails, minutes of a meeting etc. The same rule would apply for giving a warning to an Employee: the warning itself must also be verified by emails etc.
In the event of misconduct it may also be necessary to hold a Disciplinary Hearing. The Employee would need to be given notice of the Hearing and the charges against him as well as presented with the evidence against him or her. The Employee should ensure that they arrive for the Hearing and that they have prepared evidence to put their version forward. The Employer should take all relevant factors into account and apply his or her mind to the situation prior to simply just jumping to a judgment.
Failure to have adequate Agreements, Procedures and Codes in place may well land the employer in hot water at the CCMA or labour court. It also makes for an unsure and uncertain work environment as both Employer and Employee do not have clear guidelines how to deal with every-day occurrences or even serious matters such as Sexual Harassment or arriving at the work-place intoxicated.
Know your rights! Know how to create a safe and open work place by using clear Procedures and Agreements.
Contact us today to revise your current Agreements or to draft new ones!