Can you spot the mistakes in this example?
Tracey is responsible for making sure the petty cash balances each day. She's never seen the petty cash policy and procedure but it's on the company intranet. You explained the petty cash rules to her a long time ago.
Everyone in the company, including Tracey's manager who oversees the petty cash, often borrows money from the petty cash. They use it to pay for the sandwiches they buy from the vendor at lunch time. They generally give the money back to her the next day and she doesn't record these transactions.
One day Johan asks Tracey if he can borrow R400 from petty cash to put petrol in his car. He promises to pay it back the next day. He doesn't and when Sheila balances her petty cash at the end of the week she's R400 short.
Her manager wants to discipline her for failing to follow the company procedure. She's been looking for a reason to get rid of Tracey and this may be her lucky break. Tracey's manager says that normally everyone borrows only a few Rands and this is a big amount.
Her manager chairs the disciplinary hearing they have the very next day. Her manager finds her guilty but doesn't keep a transcript of the hearing. They fire Tracey immediately!
Could you spot the mistakes? Keep reading to find out more…
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Let's look at the mistakes in the scenario above…
Mistake 1: Being inconsistent. In this scenario Tracey was the only one disciplined
What about her manager and everyone else in the company that borrowed money from petty cash? The same rules need to apply to everyone in the company. Apply your discipline consistently to ensure your labour practices are fair.
Remember when you decide on a penalty for an offence it sets a precedent for other offences. If you decide not to dismiss a person for theft, you'll find it difficult to dismiss the next person who steals from you.
Mistake 2: Assuming your employees know your policies.
In this case, it was assumed that Tracey knew the rules. Yes the policies were on the intranet but that's not enough.
Never take it for granted your employee is aware of your policies and procedures. You can't find her guilty if she doesn't know what the procedure is.
Don't contravene your procedures. Apply them consistently all the time. Scroll down for the next two mistakes…
Here's how to chair a legally compliant disciplinary enquiry in just five easy steps
Chairing a disciplinary hearing isn't easy.
With all the disciplinary codes and procedures you have to remember...
The roles and rules you need to adhere to...
The different questions you need to ask...
The different types of evidence that can legally be presented...
There are dozens of things you need to keep in mind to give each employee a fair hearing.
But what if I told you that chairing a hearing that follows the right disciplinary process is as easy as five simple steps? It can be…
Mistake 3: Not following the basic rules of the disciplinary hearing
Tracey's manager was also guilty of borrowing money from petty cash. But she chaired the disciplinary hearing. This is a definite no in the rules of disciplinary hearings. She also didn't give Tracey enough notice to prepare her case. Her manager was also looking for a reason to fire her and saw this as her. It seems that the penalty was already decided before the hearing.
Mistake 4: No record was made of the hearing. No transcript was made of Tracey's hearing
Keep complete and professional documentation ready for presentation to the CCMA. Type up all handwritten reports and keep records of the evidence presented.
It's better to have a full record of the hearing available if you think there could be a legal case.
Make sure you never make the same mistakes. Always follow the correct disciplinary hearing steps to avoid dismissing an employee illegally.
Until next time,
P.S. Don't lose at the CCMA because of a technicality! With the Labour Law for Managers you'll know how you can dismiss your employees 100% legally.