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Do you know which three conditions classify as assault?

by , 19 June 2013
Millionaire art collector, Charles Saatchi has accepted a police caution for assaulting his wife and famous chef, Nigella Lawson. According to media reports, Saatchi voluntarily went to Charing Cross station and was interviewed by officers about photographs showing him with his hand around the television cook's throat. What's caused a public outcry about the incident are Saatchi's remarks that 'there was no grip, it was a playful tiff'. And it's leading readers to ask the question: 'Do you really know what assault is?' Read on to discover the three conditions of assault so you'll know how to discipline an employee if he assaults another in your workplace.

According to The Telegraph, the wealthy art lover admitted the photographs looked horrific, but claimed he was trying to 'emphasise my point' during a debate about their children.

He said Lawson was seen weeping because she hated arguing, NOT because she was hurt.

However, The Telegraph reports that Heather Harvey of the charity Eaves For Women, believes: 'There is no way you can dismiss that as a 'playful tiff' and there is no way that you can think that is an acceptable way to emphasise your point'.

What if you're faced with a similar situation in your workplace? Do you really know what assault is?

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

For you to know how to discipline or even dismiss employees for assault you have to know the three conditions for assault, otherwise you could end up defending an unfair dismissal case.

Revealed: Three conditions for assault you can't ignore

#1: Assault must be unlawful. This means it's a criminal offence. However, there are times when assault is legal, for example a police officer using physical force to arrest a fleeing criminal. In this example, the physical act wouldn't be seen as assault because it was carried out lawfully.

#2: Assault can never be 'accidental'– it's done on purpose and intentionally. Keep in mind that physical harm is an accident only when there isn't any intention to hurt someone else. For example, if Sipho accidentally drops a greasy heavy tool on Thabo's foot.

#3: Assault can take place without any physical contact. This means the mere threat made to another person can amount to assault. As long as any reasonable person hearing the threats would take them seriously and believes the aggressor has the power to carry out the threat. Even a shop steward issuing threats during heated and robust wage negotiations can be disciplined for assault

By understanding the three conditions that classify as assault, you can you know how to discipline employees even as they try to play it down as a 'playful tiff'.


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