Discipline and Dismissal


The choice of a person to Chair a disciplinary hearing is never an easy task.  There are a number of qualities that are highly desirable in the choice of a chairperson, and in fact the correct choice of a chairperson is a critical element in the success or otherwise of the disciplinary process. There are no legislative guidelines on this - these guidelines have evolved from custom and practice, and probably a little common sense as well, and also taking into account the requirements of a fair procedure.

 

A fair procedure dictates that the chairperson of a disciplinary hearing should (if possible):

  • Be unbiased and impartial
  • Have no prior knowledge of the case
  • Must remain neutral at all times and does not represent either party to the dispute
  • Have a good knowledge of the correct procedure
  • Be capable of taking down his own notes (not the minutes) during the proceedings
  • Have at least a working knowledge of the correct dispute resolution procedures.
  • Have at least a working knowledge of basic labour law.
  • Be experienced in weighing up evidence, and experienced in separating the facts from opinions and hearsay, in order to arrive at a verdict of guilt or innocence.
  • Be able to justify and give reasons upon which his verdict of guilt or innocence is based.
  • Be experienced in considering all the factors that need to be considered in arriving at a finding on a suitable and fair sanction.
  • Be able to justify and give reasons upon which the decided sanction is based.

 

The chairperson should also be given a mandate by the employer, as to whether he is required to make a decision regarding a sanction, or whether he is required to make only a recommendation. It can be seen that this is not a task for an amateur. The chairperson should (although this is not always possible) have no prior knowledge of the case, and he should owe no allegiance to either the complainant or the respondent. This means that the chairperson must be completely neutral.


It is extremely difficult in the work situation to keep a pending disciplinary action a secret.  It is almost 100% certain that when disciplinary action is to be taken against an employee, the news of the forthcoming disciplinary process spreads like wildfire throughout the workplace, even before the official notices have been issued.


It is even more certain that knowledge of the case will have come to the attention of everybody in a management position higher than a supervisor, and in all probability everybody below that level knows about it as well. How then do you choose an impartial and unbiased chairperson from within the workplace?  It is not likely that you will be able to do so. And then, what about all the other desirable attributes that the chairperson should possess?


In addition, the person chosen from within the organization, will, with certainty, be primed before the hearing by the M.D. or somebody higher, and will be told what outcome the employer desires from the disciplinary process.  This usually entails something like "I want this person fired.  If you don't fire him, I will fire you."

 

And thus the "unbiased and impartial" chairperson proceeds to chair the disciplinary proceedings. The chairperson must be free to apply his own mind, as opposed to applying the pre-decided mind of the employer, to the facts of the case and to his deliberations in arriving at a sanction.


If this cannot be done, a fair verdict and a fair sanction cannot be arrived at.  If the chairperson is simply going through the motions and following the employer's instructions regarding the desired outcome, the proceedings become an absolute farce and amount to nothing more than window dressing.


It would be far better for both bodies if the proceedings were simply dispensed with, and a verdict and sanction announced without any prior procedure.

For more information contact [email protected]

 

Subscribe to our free newsletter

* indicates required
 

By submitting your email address to us, you agree to receive our newsletters and course updates. For more information about how we protect your personal information, click here .

Accredited Training Provider

     

Upcoming Courses

 

Workplace Discipline and Dismissal

07 July 2022 (09:00 - 16:00)

Interactive Online Course

Health and Safety Representative and Committee Training Course

14 July 2022 (08:30 - 16:00)

Interactive Online Course

21 July 2022 (08:30 - 16:00)

Emperors Palace Convention Centre

Basic Labour Relations

15 July 2022 (09:00 - 16:00)

Interactive Online Course

New Code of Good Practice: Harassment in the Workplace New Course

15 July 2022 (09:00 - 12:00)

Emperors Palace: Convention Centre

Chairing Disciplinary Hearings

21 & 22 July 2022 (09:00 - 16:00)

Interactive Online Course

The OHS Act and the Responsibilities of Management (Legal Liability) 

28 July 2022 (08:30 - 16:00)

Interactive Online Course

29 July 2022 (08:30 – 16:00)

Emperors Palace: Convention Centre 

Managing day-to-day challenges in the workplace

28 July 2022 (09:00 - 15:30)

Interactive Online Course

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act and Related Workplace Policies New Course

29 July 2022 (08:30 - 12:30)

Interactive Online Course 

 

August

New Code of Good Practice: Harassment in the Workplace New Course

04 August 2022 (09:00 - 12:00)

Interactive Online Course

Trade Unions in the Workplace

05 August 2022 (09:00 - 12:00)

Interactive Online Course

Managing day-to-day challenges in the workplace

12 August 2022 (09:00 - 15:30)

Cape Town: Protea Hotel Tyger Valley

The formulation of disciplinary charges Online Course

12 August 2022 (09:00 - 12:00)

Interactive Online Course

Chairing Disciplinary Hearings

18 & 19 August 2022 (09:00 - 16:00)

Emperors Palace: Convention Centre

Hazard Identification & Risk Assessment Course

18 August 2022 (08:30 - 16:00)

Interactive Online Course

Shop Steward Training

19 August 2022 (09:00 - 16:00)

Interactive Online Course 

How to win an unfair dismissal case at the CCMA / Bargaining Council

25 August 2022 (09:00 - 16:00)

Interactive Online Course

Managing Poor Performance/ Incapacity

25 August 2022 (09:00 - 13:00)

Interactive Online Course

Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Course

26 August 2022 (08:30 - 16:00)

Interactive Online Course

 

September

Retrenchments Simplified

02 September 2022 (09:00 - 12:00)

Interactive Online Course

Introduction to Mediation New Course

08 September 2022 (09:00 - 16:00)

Interactive Online Course

Basic Labour Relations

09 September 2022 (09:00 - 16:00)

Cape Town: Protea Hotel Tyger Valley

Negotiation Skills New Course

22 September 2022 (08:30 - 16:00)

Interactive Online Course

 

Our Clients