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Should you dismiss an employee who's guilty of gross insubordination?

by , 18 August 2014
Gross insubordination is when your employee intentionally refuses to follow your lawful and reasonable instruction.

One of the common questions that our labour experts get around this issue is whether or not employers can dismiss an employee who's guilty of gross insubordination.

If you want to know the answer too, keep reading so you'll discipline your employee in a manner that won't land you at the CCMA.

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Before we look at whether or not to dismiss, let's look at an example of gross insubordination

Let's say you tell your employee Stanley the following: Stanley, Vera's car has broken down again. Won't you please use my bakkie to pick her up at her house? She needs to complete the books for month end.

Stanley replies by saying the following and he's shouting at you: 'I have already fetched her twice this month. I'm not a taxi service! If you want Vera fetched – do it yourself! I am not your slave.

While still in shock, you reply by saying: Stanley, who do you think you're speaking to?

Stanley replies by saying: 'The idiot who thinks that because he pays my pathetic salary, I have to do everything he says. Well you're wrong – I will not fetch her today or ever again. I've had enough of you pushing me around!'

This is a perfect example of gross insubordination, now the big question is how should you discipline Stanley? Can you dismiss him?

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Yes! You can dismiss an employee who's guilty of gross insubordination

In the above example, Stanley's being grossly insubordinate. He refuses to carry out an instruction which falls within his job. He's more aggressive and intentionally defies your authority. He deliberately refuses and isn't just disobeying your instructions.

This is a more serious offence (compared to insubordination) and you'd be justified in dismissing him irrespective of whether you had witnesses to the event or not.

Dismissal's an appropriate penalty because his conduct towards you makes working together intolerable.

The bottom line: Gross insubordination is a serious offence and you can dismiss your employee for it because he's challenging your authority and making the employment relationship unbearable.

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