Disciplinary procedures

Disciplinary procedures keep employees accountable for their actions if they transgress the employer’s disciplinary code of conduct. While certain misconduct may be regarded as less serious, and which may only warrant a verbal warning and therefore require an informal disciplinary procedure, serious misconduct requires formal disciplinary procedures as it may result in dismissal.

It is important for the employer to fully investigate possible misconduct of an employee and to have sufficient evidence prior to drawing up the charges. The employer’s disciplinary code should be used as a guide by the employer when drafting a charge sheet to initiate disciplinary steps against an employee.

The employer appoints the Chairperson in a disciplinary hearing. The Chairperson can be an employee of the employer, alternatively an independent third party who is not employed by the employer. It is important that the employer satisfies itself that the Chairperson will not to be biased towards either one of the parties involved in the disciplinary hearing. The Chairperson should have no prior knowledge about the case in question and must reach his/her decision based solely on the evidence presented during the hearing. The Chairperson must ensure substantive and procedural fairness during the hearing and the recommended sanction, in the event of a finding of guilt, should be guided by the employer’s disciplinary code.

A large number of employers prefer to appoint external Chairpersons for disciplinary hearings. This ensures that the Chairperson of the hearing is truly an independent third party in the proceedings. Employers also obtain professional assistance prior to disciplinary hearings to ensure that there is sufficient evidence against an employee in respect of the charges contained in the charge sheet. Obtaining professional advice prior to a hearing and appointing an external Chairperson may reduce the risk of the findings of the hearing being successfully challenged in the CCMA, Bargaining Council or Labour Court.

We offer our services to employers during the disciplinary process, which include investigation of alleged misconduct, gathering of evidence, identifying and interviewing witnesses, drafting of charge sheets, preparation of packs for the hearing, prosecuting hearings and chairing hearings in instances where we are not involved in the matter prior to the hearing.

For sound Labour Law advice and assistance, contact Clark Laing Inc. today.

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