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The purpose of a disciplinary code and procedures is to regulate standards of conduct and incapacity within an organisation.  The aim of discipline is to correct unacceptable behaviour and adopt a progressive approach in the workplace.

  • Employer’s obligation- The employer needs to ensure that all employees are aware of the rules and expected reasonable standards of behaviour for the workplace.

  • Employee’s obligation -The employee needs to ensure that he/she is familiar with the relevant disciplinary standards in the workplace and that he/she complies with the disciplinary code and procedure at the workplace.

Counselling vs Disciplinary Action:

  • Counselling  - will be appropriate where the employee is not performing to a standard or is not aware of the rule regulating conduct and/or where the breach of the rule is relatively minor and can be condoned.

  • Disciplinary Action – will be appropriate where a breach of the rule cannot be condoned, or where counselling has failed to achieve the desired effect.

Types of Disciplinary Action:  

  • Verbal warning;

  • Written warning;

  • Final written warning;

  • Suspension without pay (for a limited period);

  • Demotion, as an alternative to dismissal only; and

  • Dismissal.

The law does not specify that employees should receive any specific number of warnings.  Dismissal could follow on the occasion of a first offence, in the case of serious misconduct.  

Arbitration instead of Disciplinary Hearing 

In terms of recent amendments to the Labour Relations Act, employers and employees can agree that an arbitrator should be requested to conduct an enquiry in regard to the employee's conduct or capacity. This permits parties, by agreement, to short circuit the statutory dispute resolution procedure and avoid much duplication in procedures 

Such arbitrations allow for a single procedure that results in a final and binding arbitration award. The decision of the arbitrator will be subject only to review by the Labour Court. 

The employer pays a fee for the arbitration service rendered. The amount of the fees have not yet been determined and will be subject of regulation.

 Information provided herein is based on documentation available from the CCMA.  

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