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Wrong behaviour

Attention HR profession: How to deal with a scapegoat in your company

We've been consulted when there's been a crisis in a workplace (e.g. important clients were offended or the company lost money) but an innocent person has been blamed. It's been our experience – as reported by members of the HR profession - that when this happens, managers run for cover while pointing fingers. Sometimes, the accusing finger is in fact pointed in the right direction but just as often the wrong person's head rolls because the culprits have conspired to scapegoat an easy target. As someone in the HR profession, how would you deal with a situation like this?


Dismissal: Are lawyers allowed at a disciplinary enquiry?


When you conduct a disciplinary enquiry at your company – which could possibly lead to dismissal – follow the proper procedure prescribed by the Code of Good Practice in schedule 8 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) as this will ensure the procedure is fair. For a disciplinary enquiry to be fair, the employee must be allowed to be represented by a trade union representative or fellow employee. Does this mean that they would also be entitled to be represented by a lawyer?


What labour legislation to throw at late-coming employees

Late employee

Both sound management principles and labour legislation require you to use firm, swift, fair and progressive disciplinary measures to deal with late-coming employees, as well as other misconduct, before you dismiss the offenders. This means that if you're faced with late-coming employees you must give them warnings as soon as the problem arises. If, and when, the late-coming is repeated, you need to dole out more serious warnings.


How to win a discipline matter at arbitration


Thousands of cases are lost at arbitration simply because the loser didn't bring his proof to the arbitration hearing. When I was an arbitrator, I frequently heard the employer or the employee say, while testifying, "If you want the proof I can tell you where to get it" or "Mr Smith will back me up if you want to call him" or "I didn't realise that you wouldn't believe me". The problem is that parties in an arbitration matter don't fully understand the rules of the game.


Don’t discipline your insubordinate employees unnecessarily!


An 'insubordinate employee' is when an employee refuses to submit to the authority that his superior reasonably exercises. When an employee is insubordinate, he may – for example - refuse to obey reasonable and lawful instructions or deny his superior the right to give him reasonable instructions. Insubordination can be a very serious offence and you can discipline the employee accordingly. However, if you incorrectly diagnose your employee's behaviour as being insubordinate, you could get into hot water.