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7 Elements of gross insubordination you need to know before you dismiss an employee

by , 18 February 2016
You instruct your employee to send you daily reports. After two weeks of asking him every day, you still haven't seen one report. He's blatantly ignoring your request.

What can you do?

In labour terms, this is insubordination. It's where the employee refuses to carry out a lawful instruction.

You can dismiss for an isolated incident if it's very serious (gross) and violates your employer-employee trust.

But, before you dismiss you need to make sure the offence includes all the elements of gross insubordination.

Keep reading below to find out what these are...

Don't end up on the losing side of the CCMA because you didn't know the difference between insubordination and gross insubordination

You need to understand the following so you can discipline employees properly:

•    What is insubordination;
•    How it's different to gross insubordination;
•    How it's different to insolence;
•    How the three offences happen in the workplace; and
•    How courts interpret the three terms.

I have the solution you've been waiting for....

7 Elements of gross insubordination:
1. Your instruction was lawful and reasonable. You can't order your employee to do something he's incapable of. For example, he doesn't have the training or competence to obey your instruction.
2. You must have proof you gave him the instruction and he ignored it.
3. You must prove that such ignorance was a direct challenge of your authority.
4. The challenge must be deliberate.
5. It must be serious. For example, deliberately delaying a quote to a supplier, which loses you the business as a result.
6. Your instruction must form part of your employee's work i.e. it must be 'lawful'. You can't fire your accountant for refusing to go to BMW to sort out your private motor plan issues.
7.  Always follow all the requirements for a fair hearing.

After checking these 7 elements of gross insubordination, you can start the disciplinary hearing process. But make sure gross insubordination is classified correctly in your disciplinary code.

Keep reading to see how...
You want to dismiss an employee but do you know how to go about it?

How do you actually write 'Mr … was lazy and unreliable' in a legally correct way when giving a reference? And in such a way that the employee cannot sue you later!

Believe it or not:

Even a '!' in the wrong place may be the reason that you lose a case at the CCMA. The frustrating thing is, it's exactly these petty errors and similar loopholes in the labour law that mean employers lose 51% of all CCMA cases.

These technicalities don't apply to references only, but also to written warnings and dismissals.
That's why I've put together a special new report: How to get rid of that employee who's not performing to help you make sure you dismiss a poor performer legally.

How to classify gross insubordination in your disciplinary code

Don't separate insubordination and gross insubordination in your disciplinary code. This is because it can be confusing and there's a fine line between them. You and your employee won't always be sure when the offence is insubordination or gross insubordination, when the employee deliberately and openly challenged your authority.

In fact, gross insubordination is a more serious form of insubordination. If you already have 2 classes of offences in your disciplinary code, before you dismiss the employee, make sure the employee's behaviour contains all 7 elements above.

If you don't already have a disciplinary code implemented... Don't panic! You can use our sample template…

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