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HR 101 – What to do when . . . You Want to Dismiss Staff – Part 7

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

Today we are going to look at what the guidelines are if you want to dismiss for misconduct.

Employers should consider the following before dismissing a staff member for misconduct:

Whether or not the employee failed to comply with a Company rule or Company standards governing conduct in the workplace or whilst they were representing the Company and

If the rule or standard was broken or not met, whether or not:-

i) the rule or standard that was broken was a valid or reasonable one for example – the Company is a nursery and they have a standard rule that employees dress up around a theme for “Spring day”. This year the theme is ‘pot plants’ and George refused to dress up as a pansy. Dismissing George for misconduct would be inviting trouble through the door.

ii) the employer was aware, or could reasonably be expected to be aware of the rule or standard – for example – Jane has been on maternity leave for 3 months. During the time that she was away the Company took a stand regarding “Facebook” and a memorandum was issued stating that staff could no longer access “Facebook” during working hours as it affected productivity. The first thing that Jane did when she got back to work was log onto “Facebook” to catch up with all of her friends. Dismissing Jane on the grounds of misconduct would be inviting trouble through the door.

iii) the rule or standard has been consistently been enforced by the employer – for example, George and James are both store managers in a retail chain. George was caught “borrowing” money out of the till for taxi fare. It was George’s first offense of this nature. George is the top salesman in the Company and his store consistently over-performs. George is counseled and is given a written warning. A month later James is also caught “borrowing” money out of the till for taxi fare. It is also James’ first offense of this nature. James, on the other hand, is a trouble maker. He is always stirring up trouble with the unions and the staff. His sales are very poor and his store’s turnover is always below target. If James is dismissed for misconduct at this point, it would be inviting trouble in through the door.

iv) dismissing the staff member for misconduct, the punishment must “fit the crime” for the rule or standard that was broken – for example, let’s use the retail environment again. The till float in James’ store, very seldom balances. It is usually out of balance by a minimum of R1.00 or less. Dismissing the cashier for misconduct in this instance would be inviting trouble in through the door.

As you can see from the above, it is very important to dismiss someone for misconduct for the right reasons as opposed to just seeing an opportunity for getting rid of someone and using that.

It certainly is not difficult to dismiss anyone, but the correct procedures must be followed.

Next week we will look at dismissing someone for Incapacity: Poor work performance.