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HR 101 – What to do When . . . Staff are Negligent in their Duties – Part 1

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Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations and Best Practice requirements.

According to the law, the charge of negligence is a dismissible offence!

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s examine what can and often does happen.

Let’s go back to our protagonists – Mike (the employer) and George (the employee) and see what they are up to this week.

Mike owns a retail type store that sells anything and everything and George is the security guard. One of George’s main functions is to physically search employees as they leave the premises, to ensure that half the store stock doesn’t leave with them.

Mike is a pretty thorough type of a guy and he has all of his procedures and controls in place. One of the procedures is that it is incumbent upon the Security guard to search each and every employee that leaves the premises, without exception. The procedures have all been circulated and all the staff have signed off indicating that they have familiarized themselves with the procedures. Furthermore, Mike has gone through the procedures with George to ensure that he understands exactly what it is that he must do. George has been with the company for 14 years now and it is therefore highly unlikely that he has not had the benefit of training for the position. George is equipped with a metal detector that must be used when conducting a search to ensure that metal objects have not been fraudulently removed from the store.

In view of the value of some of the higher-priced goods in the store, Mike has had a whole surveillance application installed and he is able to video all the staff as they leave and therefore he is able to monitor George to ensure that the search is in fact carried out on all the staff and also to ensure that the correct search procedures are utilized.

In accordance with laid down procedures, George has signed the procedure manual, in particular the procedures that pertain to the searching of staff members as they leave the premises, thereby acknowledging that they had been read and explained to him and that he understood what it was that had to be done.

The employees are individually searched in a private cubicle, with close personal inspection, plus a metal detector scan.

Mike noticed that the turnover in the store was steadily declining and that the losses were creeping upwards all the time. He investigated and attempted to resolve the situation by increasing his preventative measures. One of the areas that he looked closely at was the staff exit procedures.

What he discovered was not good news. He found that out of 24 employees that left, George had only conducted a properly compliant searched on 1 of these. There were eight instances where the staff members were not searched at all. That meant that there were 15 staff members who were not properly searched. Not only were the staff not searched or not correctly searched, but the video also showed that George allowed the staff to sign the register thereby confirming that they had been searched when of course they hadn’t!

Clearly a disciplinary had to take place.

Next time we will continue with what happens.

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