17th January 2019 at 2:37 pm #8054Ivan IsraelstamSpectator
WHAT CONSTITUTES DISCIPLINE?
Items 3(2) and 3 (3) of Schedule 8 of the Labour Relations Act state that discipline of employees should be done through a system of graduated disciplinary measures such as counselling and warnings. Informal advice and correction is the best way to deal with minor violations of work discipline. Repeated misconduct may require warnings. Stakeholders have tended to regard the issuance of warnings as the sole action that constitutes discipline short of dismissal. However, the above description of Schedule 8’s provisions seems to provide a much broader meaning of ‘discipline’ including the advising and counselling of an errant employee and other corrective measures. The Collins Concise Dictionary includes “chastisement” as one of the meanings of discipline.
Question: Would a formal letter from an employer to an employee constitute discipline if it does not include the words ‘warning’ or ‘discipline’ but chastises the employee for serious misconduct, states that such conduct can no longer be tolerated, states that the misconduct poses a risk to the trust of the employee and sets out detailed instructions on how the employee is required to behave in future?21st January 2019 at 5:53 pm #8057Michael BagraimKeymaster
Schedule 8 of the Labour Relations Act is a guideline. This guideline does not usurp the internal disciplinary policies of the employer, however, the structure of the guideline is open ended and is specifically done so to ensure fairness and progressive discipline. The numerous rulings of various arbitrators and judgments given by the Labour Court have emphasised progressive discipline which could start from a mere comment which indeed would constitute a warning and discipline. It is expected of the employer to escalate the comment on the next occasion and thereafter it could be escalated all the way to dismissal after a disciplinary enquiry.
Michael Bagraim26th January 2019 at 12:51 pm #8076Patrick DealeKeymaster
Yes, the formal letter would constitute a progressive disciplinary warning. A reasonable person reading the letter would understand it to mean that the conduct is unacceptable and serious enough to warrant dismissal if repeated. This serves the purpose of a warning which is to alert the employee and put him or her on terms to refrain or face possible dismissal.
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