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Busted: Five urban myths about dismissals

by , 28 August 2013
'I can't dismiss an employee for an illegal or unsafe act if he's acting on an instruction from a manager'. This is just one of the popular myths about dismissals. The truth is, an employee who commits an illegal or unsafe act should expect to be dismissed. No employee can be forced to commit an illegal act and it's well within in his rights to refuse to do so. Read on to discover the truth behind the biggest myths about dismissals.

There are a lot of myths regarding dismissals.

If you've believe them, you can end up making errors when dismissing employees. And this can lead to unnecessary and often huge expense.

The good news is the Practical Guide to Human Resources Management has set the record straight regarding dismissals.

Here's what you need to know about dismissals to comply with labour law.

Revealed: The truth about dismissals

Myth#1: Labour Law makes it impossible to dismiss an employee

Fact: The Labour Relations Act lays down processes to be followed when contemplating the dismissal of an employee. This ensures there is fairness in the process. Not that you have to continue to employ an employee who is a problem.

Myth #2: If an employee doesn't come to work for more than five days without contacting me, I can assume that he's resigned

Fact: Absconsion isn't resignation. Resignations must be in writing.

If you employee has absconded, you have a duty to try to contact him. Notify him by letter (or any other reasonable method) that he has to attend a disciplinary hearing and if he doesn't, you can dismiss him in his absence.

If he does eventually return to work, make sure you allow an appeal hearing and apply a fair sanction. He may have been in a coma or detained in a foreign prison.

Myth #3: I must wait for a formal complaint before taking action against an abusive employee

Fact: You have a duty to ensure your employees are protected from harassment or any form of discrimination.

You must take action if you become aware that your employee is being harassed, even if a formal complaint hasn't been laid. Failure to do this could lead to a case at the CCMA and possible civil action against your company.

Myth #4: I can't give a bad reference to a dismissed employee

Fact: You could be sued if you give a reference that's libellous or untrue. But, no one can successfully sue you if you tell the truth.

Companies often have policies preventing employees from giving references on previous employees because they can't control what will be said. If an employee has been dismissed for theft, it's fair to give this information to a prospective employer, says the Practical Guide to Human Resources Management.

Myth #5: If I dismiss the employee he'll take revenge or become violent

Fact: Make sure you counsel your employee. Take the time to ensure he knows what'll happen if he's dismissed. The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) gives some benefit to dismissed employees.

Now that you know the truth regarding dismissals, make sure you comply with labour law.


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