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Do you want to demote an employee? Then make sure you're aware of these three things FIRST

by , 20 October 2015
So you're not at all happy with one of your employees. Perhaps she did something, or failed do something, which is considered very serious.

What's more, she holds a high position within your business. And you believe you should hold a disciplinary hearing where you'll demote her and decrease her salary.

The question is, can you do this?

Here are three things you should know when it comes to demotions:

1. What you should know is that demoting an employee leads to a material reduction in her remuneration, responsibility and status within the company. But not only this, a demotion can also lead to reduction in dignity, even if she keeps here salary and rank.
 
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Everything you need to know about substantively and procedurally fair disciplinary hearings
 
So… Your employee's guilty of misconduct. Let's say he took a company laptop home, without asking permission. It's a simple open and closed case of theft, isn't it?
 
Not so fast! You can't just say 'that's it, you're out of here' and think that's the end of that. No, you still have to hold a disciplinary hearing. You still have to give him a chance to defend his case, and explain why he did that.
 
You also have to prove that he did this. You have to spell it out for him and notify him you're going to discipline him. And you have to give him time to prepare his case.
 
And then there's even more to it… You have to have a disciplinary hearing so you can prove your case, and give him a chance to defend his… And this is where most employers fail.
 
But not you! Here's why…
 
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2. You can demote an employee – provided it's done fairly (Section 186(2)(a) of the Labour Relations Act (LRA)). This means that it must be justifiable on substantive grounds and must meet the relevant procedural requirements.
 
3. Demotion is only allowed in a situation where dismissal can take place, but that mitigating factors avoid dismissal itself. The employee may then agree to the alternative to dismissal, namely demotion. She can then also agree to you changing the terms and conditions of her employment so as to demote her and reduce her salary.
 
*Remember that demotion should only be considered in serious offences, where dismissal is a possibility.

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