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Your employee breaks a rule due to an illness. Can you discipline him?

by , 10 December 2015
So, you catch one of your employees sleeping on the job. At the disciplinary hearing you find out that it's due to abusing sleeping tablets.

What now?

Well, drug addiction is considered to be an illness in South Africa. And sleeping tablets are no exception. Many people can find themselves dependant on these prescribed pills, running from one doctor to the next in an attempt to feed their addiction.

With the addiction being considered an illness, it's important for you to realise that treatment should take preference over discipline. This is emphasised in the fact that the courts do not take too lightly to doing otherwise.
Keep reading…

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…
Article continued…

Having said that, it's recommended that you pursue a strategy of treatment for the employee, BUT only if the following three criteria can be met:

·        If the illness is the root of the problem (sleeping on the job);
·        If the correction of a disability can restore satisfactory conduct;  and
·        If the employee had previously been working well and could improve through treatment.
But also keep in mind that treatment could be found inappropriate in the following three instances:

·        If the investigation shows no sign of illness or disability;
·        Treatment has already been provided to the employee and didn't work;
·        If the employee has been offered treatment, but refuses to co-operate.
*There was what you should do when dealing with infringements, in the workplace, due to illness.

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