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Only consider demotions in these three instances to avoid an unfair labour practice

by , 14 June 2016
Only consider demotions in these three instances to avoid an unfair labour practiceDemotions, namely the reduction in an employee's rank and status, can be a tricky area for many employers. This is because one wrong move could result in an unfair labour practice.

You see, demoting an employee can only be done under certain conditions. You can't just say: 'I'm going to demote her because she's impossible'. That will probably be unfair.

So to help you avoid this, here are three instances in which you should only really be considering a demotion...

Keep reading to see what they are...


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Only consider demotions in these three instances to avoid an unfair labour practice…

INSTANCE#1: Alternative to retrenchment

You would consider a demotion as an alternative to demotion. This is because even though the employee might be earning less money, they'll at least still have a job.

NOTE: Keep in mind that should the employee refuse the demotion, they'll be entitled to severance pay, as long as his reason for refusing is justified. For example, it could be based on the fact that they're earning less money. 

INSTANCE#2: Misconduct

This would involve disciplinary action just short of dismissal. In other words, it's the only viable option, apart from dismissal itself.

NOTE: The employee will need to agree to the demotion, and if he doesn't you'll have to have sufficient reasons to do so.

INSTANCE#3: Incapacity

In a situation where the employee just isn't cutting it, you may consider demotion. Who knows, he might actually perform better in a lower position as opposed to his current one.

NOTE: This may also apply to a new employee who you recently hired. For example, you may discover later on that she's not doing so well in the position she was hired for. But you've recognised her as a hard worker, and so you could lower her position, but still keep her as an employee of yours.

1. Always get an employee's consent to a demotion in writing, as doing such a thing entails the changing of an employee's terms and conditions of employment.

REMEMBER: A demotion on arbitrary grounds, such as ones which do not fall under the above-mentioned instances, could very well be seen as an unfair labour practice. So be cautious when considering demotion as an option for employees.
*To learn more on unfair labour practices, page over to Chapter U 01: in your Labour Law for Managers handbook, or click here to order your copy today. 

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