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Consider these two factors before you dismiss an employee for dishonesty

by , 25 August 2014
An employee - employer relationship is based on trust.

So when an employee is dishonest, it becomes difficult for you because the trust is gone. If for, example Jo steals something, you'll believe he'll steal again. That's why employers often feel dismissal is the only option because they don't want to be looking over their shoulder all the time.

And although you think this is the right thing to do, the courts have other ideas.

That's why you MUST consider these two factors before you dismiss an employee for dishonesty or you'll find yourself fighting an unfair dismissal case.

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Two factors you must consider before you dismiss an employee for dishonesty

#1: Is trust broken?

Labour expert and director at Invictus Outsourcing Solutions, Peter Mcdermott says when you want to dismiss an employee for dishonesty, you have to ask yourself if the position the employee occupied was one where trust was a key factor. For example, did you trust your employee to handle company funds routinely in an unsupervised fashion?

If you conclude that trust has been broken, you should go on to ask if there's an alternative corrective measure, short of dismissal, available. For example, can you move your employee to a position where he won't work with company funds.

But it doesn't end there.

#2: Am I being consistent?

According to Mcdermott, even if both these answers point toward dismissal, you must still consider if you've acted consistently. In other words, have you dismissed other people who've committed similar acts of dishonesty in the past? If not, you risk acting against your established culture by forcing a dismissal.

The courts direct you to think differently about sanctions for dishonesty

Mcdermott says the landmark case of Shoprite Checkers v CCMA & others (2008) proved that you can no longer assume dismissal is the only penalty for dishonesty. The decision to dismiss requires a combination of complex factors that'll determine if the breach of trust merits dismissal.

You must look at your employee's:

  • Conduct in committing the dishonesty (the kind of dishonesty committed, such as theft or fraud) and the seriousness of the dishonesty. For example, does it qualify as serious or gross dishonesty?


  • Your employee's conduct in the aftermath of the dishonesty. For example, did he readily admit to the dishonesty? Did he show genuine remorse?

Knowing what to consider before you dismiss an employee for dishonesty will help ensure you avoid unfair dismissal disputes.

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