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Disciplinary hearings: Here's what you NEED to know about formulating the charges

by , 15 January 2014
Formulating charges is one of the steps you must take when preparing a disciplinary hearing. Since it's crucial that this process is both procedural and substantively fair, read on to find out how to formulate charges correctly.

Suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has received a charge sheet from the trade union federation, five months after being put on special leave, News24 reports.

The union put Vavi on special leave in August pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing relating to his affair with a junior employee.

If you're wondering how Cosatu went about formulating Vavi's charges, we'll give you detailed breakdown so you'll know what to do when faced with a similar situation.

Here's what you must do when formulating charges for a disciplinary hearing

The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service explains that, after gathering all the facts, you must formulate the charges to be brought against the accused.

The charge must contain details of who, what, when, where and why. This must be comprehensive and clear enough so your employee can't argue he didn't have sufficient details to prepare a defence.

Be sure you have a solid body of provable facts before formulating the charge.

For example, let's say your auditor accuses Winnie of making payments to fictitious suppliers for services not rendered. You investigate and find that, while Winnie might have done this, the evidence is weak. But there's strong evidence to show she's made unauthorised loans to suppliers.

When formulating charges, don't charge her with the original allegation; charge her with making unauthorised loans. This way you'll be able to prove the charges you bring against her. You'll also avoid giving the impression you're making up charges against her.

Important: Evidence that's sufficient to convince a presiding officer is called proof. In order to provide such proof you must gather, analyse, prepare and present the following evidence types:

  • Witness evidence
  • Documentary evidence
  • Objects
  • Places

Once you've completed your investigation and have formulated the charges, you must organise the evidence you've have gathered. Prepare it in such a way that it provides a full, clear and watertight case against the accused.

Remember to give your employee the charge sheet like how Cosatu has correctly done. This will help ensure your employee has time to prepare his defense and knows the allegations against him.

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