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Don't make the same mistake as Thandi or you'll end up paying your employee 12 months' salary in penalties

by , 21 September 2015
One of our readers, Thandi*, landed in hot water recently. She dismissed an employee for insubordination.

The employee was going to a meeting in Pretoria. Thandi asked him to deliver an important package to a client in Midrand on his way.

But, the employee refused. He said he's not a driver and he won't do it.

Thandi dismissed him for insubordination.

After taking her to the CCMA, the company had to pay the employee 12 months' salary in penalties.

Here's why...

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You can't dismiss an employee for a first offence

Dismissal is not usually appropriate for a first offence unless the offence is very serious. Reserve dismissal for instances of serious misconduct or repeated misconduct. In Thandi's case, this was the first offence by the employee. And it didn't have financial repercussions for the company.

There are rules you have to follow before you dismiss an employee…

Rule #1: Only consider dismissal in cases of very serious misconduct or repeated misconduct where less severe penalties have not had the desired effect of correcting the employee's misconduct.

This is because dismissal in employment law is the equivalent of the death sentence as a criminal penalty and shouldn't be imposed lightly or randomly.

Rule #2: Fair dismissal must be for a fair reason related to proven misconduct and carried out by means of a fair procedure.

Rule #3: Hold a proper disciplinary enquiry before imposing dismissal as a sanction. And remember the employee can challenge the dismissal as being procedurally and/or substantively unfair at the CCMA or a bargaining council as did Thandi's employee.

So next time you dismiss an employee, make sure you follow these rules so you don't end up losing a CCMA case and have to pay an employee up to 24 months' salary in penalties.

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