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HR 101 – What to do when . . . There’s a Discrepancy in the Job Description – Part 2

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

So now we know what a job description is, let’s have a look at the case study. Before we do that, however, let me just say that often the question arises about whether job descriptions should be intentionally general to avoid the situation where an employee is obliged to carry out tasks or duties that are not specified in their job description. I have been advised that this has been looked at recently by the CCMA at an arbitration – let’s have a look.

Let’s have my favorite protagonists. Mike and George.

Mike owns a fleet of ‘horse and carriages’. These are those huge big trucks that carry containers, sometimes they haul ‘double containers’. We’ve all seen them and I am sure, often been stuck behind one going up a hill! George is one of the drivers of the ‘horse’. Mike’s business is both in the various ports in South Africa as well as in Johannesburg. Mike’s vehicles transport the containers that are off-loaded in the ports and that must then be transported to where-ever the destination of the importer is, or alternatively from the exporter from whichever port the goods are leaving from. There are also times when goods must be transported from the manufacturer to the recipient’s depot.

This particular issue arose when there were no loads to be transported and George was requested to act as a convoy driver.

George refused on the grounds that he was a ‘horse and carriage’ driver and as such his duties were to the upliftment and transportation of containers and therefore he was restricted to this. His refusal was supported by the SATAWU union.

Mike stated that the instruction to act as a convoy driver, was fair and reasonable and within the requirements of the law and that therefore, George had no right to refuse to perform the task on the grounds that it was not specifically stated in his job description.

The CCMA Arbitrator was asked to decide “whether, under all circumstances, it is reasonable to instruct a horse and carriage drivers to do convoy work, when there are no loads available.”

Next week we will have a look at what the Arbitrator came up with.