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Do you understand the consequences of failing to enforce 'fair discipline?'

by , 11 September 2014
The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service defines discipline as, 'the maintenance of proper conduct and work performance in the workplace via a system of clearly defined rules and standards.'

Discipline is vital because it helps you to keep control in your workplace.

While you're within your rights to enforce discipline, you need to ensure you implement it fairly and in compliance with the law.

If you fail to do so, you'll face the following consequences...

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You'll face these consequences if you don't implement 'fair discipline'

Section 191(1) (a) of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) states should you unfairly discipline your employee in any way he can take you to the CCMA or bargaining council.

This means you'll have to spend a lot of money in legal fees and, if you lose, you'll have to pay compensation costs.

Take a look at this example that shows unfair discipline

John, your accountant, reports you to the Public Protector for dishonest dealings. You suspend him without pay for a week and transfer him to Queenstown because he blew the whistle on you. He takes you to the CCMA where you're forced to undo the transfer and pay him his full salary. 

The reason John has won his case is because of Sections 2 (1) (a) and 8(1) (a) of the Protected Disclosures Act as well as what's in the LRA.

The Protected Disclosures Act protects your employees from victimisation by employers.

Just bear in mind that the Act doesn't protect your employee if, by blowing the whistle, he commits an offence.

So, if John reports you to even an old score, you could discipline him for bringing your company's name into disrepute or breaching his duty of loyalty to the company.

The bottom line: You must enforce 'fair discipline' to avoid facing the above consequences.

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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