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How to solve your company's 24-hour notice problem

by , 08 January 2014
One of the fastest growing problems that businesses have to contend with is the '24-hour notice problem'. Read on to find out what this is and how you can avoid it in your company.

Labour experts of the Labour Guide say many an employer had to contend with the 24-hour notice problem last year.

The experts say what usually happens is, you appoint an employee, you train him and you sign a contract of employment with a clause that states your employee must give a month's notice if he wants to leave your company.

Then, to your surprise, one morning your employee gives notice saying he wants to leave the next day.

Not only are you faced with having to find a replacement, but 'the greater frustration is that all that well spent money on training and development is down the proverbial drain.'

Fortunately, it's not all doom and gloom.

Here's how to deal with the 24-hour notice problem

The Labour Guide explains that in most cases employees are bound to provide you (employer) with 1 month written notice. Sometimes it's stipulated in the employment contract merely as 1 month or 4 weeks, and in other cases it's stipulated as 1 calendar month.

So when an employee walks out and gives you 24-hour notice, it's totally illegal.

'Nowhere in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) is there any provision allowing an employee to terminate his employment contract on 24 hours notice,' says the Labour Guide.

You must handle this in terms of breach of contract.

Is there anyway to protect your company from the 24-hour notice problem?

To protect yourself, stipulate in the employment contract that if your employee decides to terminate the employment contract without tendering the written contractual notice period, you'll deduct from his final payment an amount equal to the period of notice he hasn't given.

By including this as a stipulation in the contract of employment, it becomes part of the agreement between you and your employee.
And it becomes a condition of employment which your employee is then legally bound to follow. This means if your employee breaches this condition, you'll be within your rights to make the deduction.

If you don't state this in the employment contract, you can't deduct any monies from your employee's final payment. You must pay your employee in full and then sue him civilly (in terms of breach of contract) for any damages you wish to recover.

The problem with this, especially with lower paid employees, is that the amount you want to claim in a civil case will in many cases be far less than the amount of the legal costs incurred in the recovery and you'll end up losing out.

That's why it's much wiser to protect yourself with a written contract. It's the only way to solve the 24-hour notice problem.

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