If your employee commits misconduct and you suspend him before the disciplinary hearing, you must follow a fair procedure.
If you don't, he could take you to the CCMA for an unfair labour practice. But paying costly legal fees isn't the only consequence you'll suffer. If you lose, you'll have to pay your employee up to 12 months' salary in compensation.
To avoid unfair labour practice claims, follow these four guidelines when you suspend your employee.
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Here's how to make sure your employee's suspension doesn't become the reason you land up at the CCMA for an unfair labour practice
The type of suspension that takes place before your investigation and disciplinary hearing is known as preventative or precautionary suspension.
You use this type of suspension if you fear your employee may interfere with your investigation.
The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service
recommends you follow these guidelines when you suspend your employees before the disciplinary enquiry:
Guideline #1: Have a good reason to suspend your employee
If you suspend him without good grounds, he can take you to the CCMA or Labour Court for an unfair labour practice.
What's more, the Labour Court sees preventative suspension as the same as an arrest. The court believes the suspension affects your employee's reputation and status.
So always make sure you have a valid reason to suspend your employee.
Guideline #2: Pay your employee
If you suspend your employee before the disciplinary enquiry, you must pay him in full.
If you don't, you're punishing him before you prove he's guilty. This is illegal.
Guideline #3: Notify your employee of his suspension
Give your employee a letter telling him you're suspending him. Explain this will be pending the results of an investigation. Also tell him you'll have a disciplinary hearing in future if you need to. In addition, tell him he'll get a notice to attend a disciplinary enquiry
if you decide to hold one.
Guideline #4: Notify your employee of his disciplinary hearing
If, after your investigation, you have enough evidence for a disciplinary enquiry, give your employee the notice to attend. In the notice, explain the full charges against him, the details of the enquiry and his rights at the enquiry. (Check out this article
to discover the eight items a 'notice to attend a disciplinary hearing' must contain so your discipline and dismissal process won't be procedurally unfair.)
Something as simple as suspending your employee could be the reason you land up at the CCMA for an unfair labour practice. And end up paying your employee up to 12 months' salary in compensation. Now that you have these guidelines, follow them to make sure suspension is always fair.
PS: To find out about the type of suspension you can use after a disciplinary hearing and its guidelines, check out the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.