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Can I dismiss Sipho for an illegal or unsafe act if he's acting on the instruction of his manager?

by , 23 September 2014
Let's say, you find that Sipho, one of your employees, left a dangerous machine running and his actions put the rest of his colleagues in danger.

When you call Sipho to question him about this unsafe and illegal act, he tells you his direct manager instructed him to leave the machine running. He says, his manager wanted him to help out with another task for a few minutes.

You're now wondering whether or not you can dismiss Sipho for an illegal or unsafe act if he's acting on the instruction of his manager.

Read on to find out the answer so you can deal with dismissals in a fair and legal manner.


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Yes, you can dismiss Sipho for an illegal or unsafe act even if he's acting on the instruction of his manager
 

An employee who commits an illegal or unsafe act faces dismissal, say the experts behind the Practical Guide to Human Resources Management.

You must assess the evidence to see if it would've been reasonable under the circumstances for Sipho to refuse the instruction.

The reality is that no-one can force an employee to commit an illegal or unsafe act and it would be in his rights to refuse to do so.

Sipho has a duty to report such an instruction using the company's internal grievance procedure. If he doesn't get any joy, he can take the grievance to the Department of Labour's inspectors or the CCMA.

And if the transgression his manager is asking him to make is serious enough, he can evoke the Protected Disclosures Act (Act No 26 of 2000) and report directly to the Department of Labour. Our labour laws protect employees who report the corrupt or illegal conduct of their employers.

The bottom line, is you can dismiss your employee for an illegal or unsafe act even if he's acting on the instruction of his manager. Make sure your employees are aware of this and the various methods they can use to report if their manager wants them to commit an illegal or unsafe act.
 
PS: We strongly recommend you check out the "You're Fired!" Your guide to substantive and procedurally fair dismissals. It has all the information you need to make sure your dimissals are legally compliant.



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