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Consider these five factors when disciplining for assault

by , 24 May 2013
'Assault and fighting in the workplace has become a major reason for dismissal,' says The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service. But if you get it wrong when disciplining for assault, your company could find itself on the wrong side of the labour court. So consider these five things when disciplining for assault to avoid unnecessary court battles.

Assault, according to The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, is classified as the unlawful and intentional application of force to a person, or a threat that force will be applied. For example, an employee physically beating another up or threatening to punch him.

It's important that your disciplinary procedure is fair when disciplining for assault. If you get it wrong, you could be hauled before the labour court to answer to unfair dismissal charges.

Consider these five points when disciplining for assault

The penalty imposed at a disciplinary enquiry will be influenced by a number of factors including:

  1. The severity of the injury. This must be backed up by a hospital or doctor's report and/or photographs of the injury. The more severe the injury, the more serious the penalty will be.
  2. Any medical treatment required and given. This separates minor and serious assaults – the more serious the consequences of the assault, the more severe the penalty.
  3. The weapon used (if any). The more dangerous the weapon, the more serious the penalty will be.
  4. Whether the assault was premeditated or not. This means the accused employee planned the assault ahead of time and requires a more serious penalty.
  5. Whether more than one employee attacked the single victim. Group assaults attract more severe penalties.

Keep in mind that although both parties to a fight should be charged with assault, it doesn't mean both of them should receive the same punishment. You must also take into account the personal circumstances of the employees involved in the fight.

This includes, their background, disciplinary record, length of service and any other mitigating or aggravating circumstances. If you fail to consider each employee as an individual, it could lead to unfair discipline of one or both parties to a fight.

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