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HR 101 – What to do When . . . You Always Seem To End Up At The CCMA

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Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations, The Basic Conditions of Employment Act and Best Practice requirements.

At a workshop that I was giving the other day (A Basic Practical Guide To Starting A Business), one of the delegates made a statement that went something along the lines of “I don’t want to hire any staff because they are so difficult to get rid of and then you always end up at the CCMA and then end up having to pay huge fines – it’s all about the employee!”

To say that I was stunned, would be an understatement! Then it hit me – apart from the “mindset” out in the marketplace that the Labour Law only takes care of the employee and the employer just has to keep paying, there is also the mindset of “how difficult can it be – I can do it myself”! Wrong, Wrong and Wrong again!

SMME’s (Small, Medium, Micro Enterprises) also seem to operate from the back foot. They always seem to do things as a reaction to something. Quite honestly it frustrates the hell out of me and what it does is add to the bottom line – the reality is they always end up paying through the nose and then they sit back and play the victim.

Here are some of the ways (but not limited to) in which you can avoid ending up at the CCMA or paying huge fines and penalties.

• It is widely recognized that the quickest way to end up at the CCMA is, not to have procedures in place! Having the correct HR, Administration and Operational Policies, Procedures and Templates will ensure that staff know exactly what it is that is required of them, they understand that there are consequences and they know what those consequences are. Make sure that your procedures are within the letter of the law.
• The next problem is that employers, in an attempt to save money, try and chair disciplinaries themselves. That’s just not a good idea – to chair a disciplinary, you would need to, at the very least, have an idea of what the BCOA (Basic Conditions of Employment Act) and the Labour Relations Act says. It’s like being your own lawyer in a court of law! The reality of this is that it ends up costing you an arm and a leg, as you end up having to get legal advice anyway and it leaves you feeling like a victim of the law. Don’t do it!
• Many business owners think that the law is there to make life difficult. Nothing can be further from the truth. My take on this is that the law (and also policies and procedures) are legislated and implemented to protect us from our own stupidity. Now, as you can imagine, I am often given quite a hard time by people when I make this statement. The reality though is that laws are passed and procedures are implemented as a result of something that has happened. Nobody sits around all day, trying to think up ways to make life difficult. People usually try and prevent something from happening again and again and they do this by means of either legislation or the implementation of Policies, Templates and Procedures.
• Having an inexperienced Chairperson can also cause untold problems. A Chairperson who is not competent or who cannot make a decision based on the facts, rather than the emotions – or who must report into an HR department or business owner, prior to “making a decision” is going to cost in the long run, when the employee goes to the CCMA. So make a decision to get the right person in to chair the disciplinary.

So here’s the thing then – yes Labour legislation is 100% in favour of the employee – that said Labour legislation lays down the correct procedures for employers to dismiss staff legally.

So make a decision now – get your policies and procedures correct and make sure that they are properly implemented, get the right people in to do the disciplinaries and even if you do end up at the CCMA, chances are that the case will be dismissed.

It’s your choice – how you make it will mean the difference to your business.