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Telkom suspends its CFO! Here's how to ensure your employee's suspension is fair

by , 25 October 2013
Telkom has suspended its Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jacques Schindehütte pending a disciplinary hearing. According to a BDlive report, the suspension follows the findings of an investigation commissioned by Telkom's board after certain allegations were made against Schindehütte. While you await the outcome of this high profile suspension, make sure you know what the Labour Relations Act (LRA) says about suspensions so you can apply it to your company's situations....

High profile suspensions are making headlines this week.

Two days ago, the South African Police Service suspended its Crime Intelligence head, Major-General Chris Ngcobo. This after irregularities were found in his stated qualifications.

Now, Telkom has suspended CFO, Jacques Schindehütte.

These cases have cast the spotlight on suspension in the workplace.

And when it comes to the LRA, you need to ensure suspension is fair.

But how do you ensure your employee's suspension is fair?

You must ensure you have a good reason for wanting to suspend your employee (substantive fairness) and you must follow a fair procedure (procedural fairness) not to be guilty of unfair labour practices, says the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.
Let's take a closer look at substantive fairness and procedural fairness when it comes to suspension.

Procedural fairness: Follow these steps for a fair suspension

For your employee's suspension to be procedurally fair, you must:

  • Inform your employee that you're considering suspending him;
  • Tell him the reasons why you want to suspend him;
  • Inform him that he can motivate why you shouldn't suspend him;
  • Consider his representations; and
  • Tell your employee what you've decided.

You MUST inform your employee in writing of the above decisions. Doing this ensures you've given him an opportunity to be heard.

'Follow this procedure even if your company policy or the employment contract doesn't require you to. You must follow a fair procedure before taking any decision which affects your employee, such as suspension,' says the Loose Leaf Service.
What about substantive fairness?

Substantive fairness: When can you justify suspension?

Suspension will be fair if the misconduct your employee allegedly committed or is involved in is serious.

This includes:

Warning: Even when you suspect your employee has committed a serious offence, make sure another of the grounds listed below is also present, for example:

  • You believe any misconduct investigation will be jeopardised if your employee is at work.
  • You believe the continued presence of the employee might endanger the well-being or safety of any person or company property.

Remember, the LRA gives your employee a right to fairness. So make sure your employees' is both substantively and procedurally fair to avoid unfair labour practice claims.

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