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What exactly is Progressive Discipline? Here's what you need to know to ensure you're following the law

by , 13 September 2015
When disciplining employees, it's important for you to place the focus on teaching the employee what behaviour is expected. Using means that intend to hurt the employee instead of teaching him to correct behaviour, otherwise known as punitive means, is not allowed.

Even jumping straight to dismissal can be seen as punitive. Why? Because it is not progressive.

You have to follow the course of progressive discipline as laid out in Schedule 8 of the Labour Relations Act.

Having said that, here's what you need to know about 'progressive discipline':

Progressive discipline consists of disciplinary measures that give the employee a chance to improve. 

Common progressive measures include warnings to the employee.

Fact: The CCMA doesn't care why you dismissed an employee... It only wants to know if you dismissed him fairly

If an employee breaks a rule of yours, you can issue him a warning. If he does it again, you can issue him a final warning. 

Accumulated warnings can eventually lead to a disciplinary hearing and possible dismissal. But it's important to keep in mind that the warnings and infringements must be of a similar type in order to be considered as progressive.

Another vitally important point to note around progressive discipline is that warnings aren't indefinite. In other words, they have an expiry date. 

Although the law doesn't set out a timeframe for the validity of warnings, common practice shows that 3-12 months is generally accepted.

If a warning expires, you may not use it in your progressive discipline system.

So, there's some very useful information of understanding progressive discipline. 

To learn more, click below…

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The comprehensive Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service gives you all the details you need for maximum protection in labour-related problems. You will find, for example:

Information on the problem areas managers have to handle in the workplace daily, and appropriate solutions;
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Sample contracts, dismissals and warning letters, etc;
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