Effective and fair disciplinary enquiries have many significant and positive effects in the workplace. In addition to avoiding the obvious consequences of an unfair dismissal referral, and all the cost and time involved in the litigation of such a dispute, effective and fair disciplinary enquiries assist with the establishment of trust in management.
Employees feel secure that transgressions are dealt with fairly and as a result management decisions are given legitimacy. Ultimately, the relationship between managers and their subordinates is improved which can assist towards enhanced workplace productivity.
Enhance your organisation’s fairness
In light of the above mentioned benefits, below are a few practical guidelines to help enhance the fairness and effectiveness of your organisation’s disciplinary enquiries.
If your organisation is contemplating charging an employee with misconduct:
- Ensure that, before any further steps are taken, a proper investigation into the alleged misconduct is undertaken. All the employees or individuals who were involved in, or witness to, the incident must be interviewed and their statements taken. In addition, all relevant evidence should be secured and gathered.
- Once the investigation has been completed, decide on a strategy and whether or not a disciplinary enquiry is necessary in the circumstances. If, for example, during the investigation it is discovered that there isn’t sufficient evidence to find the employee guilty of the alleged misconduct, it may be more beneficial to wait until further evidence comes to light.
- Ensure that disciplinary proceedings are appropriate in the circumstances. South African law requires that an employee is dismissed for a fair reason and in accordance with a fair procedure. A dismissal will not be considered fair unless it is justifiable and is related to either the employee’s misconduct or incapacity (due to an employee’s ill health or poor work performance) or the employer’s operational requirements.
If an employer wishes to dismiss an employee for one of these reasons, the law prescribes a specific and different procedure that needs to be followed for each type of dismissal. Thus, in order to ensure that the issue is dealt with appropriately and that the correct procedure is followed, it is important to determine whether the dismissal contemplated is due to the employee’s misconduct, incapacity or due the employer’s operational requirements.
Disciplinary proceedings are only prescribed for acts of misconduct. Acts of misconduct and issues that emerge as a result of an employee’s incapacity or ability to perform their work adequately are often confused.
In order to make the distinction between acts of misconduct and acts arising out of an employee’s incapacity, consideration must be given to whether or not, when breaching the workplace rule or requirement, the employee is at fault or is to blame (i.e. was the employee negligent or did they intend to do something wrong).
If blame can be attributed to the employee, then disciplinary action is appropriate. However, if the employee is not to blame, it is likely that the issue needs to be dealt with as an issue of incapacity.
- Determine whether or not it is necessary to suspend the employee, pending the outcome of the disciplinary enquiry. When making this decision, consider the nature and severity of the offence, whether the accused employee could tamper with evidence or interfere with witnesses, whether there is a threat to the safety of other employees or to the accused employee and/or whether the employee could repeat the offence before the hearing. Before suspending the employee, it is advisable to inform the employee that their possible suspension is being contemplated, and ask them if they would like to make any representations. Give the employee an opportunity to make their representations, consider their representations (if any), and then make a decision on their suspension.
- It is very important to draft the appropriate disciplinary charge, based on the evidence that is available. If necessary get assistance in this respect, especially in cases of serious and/or complicated cases of alleged misconduct. It is crucial to charge an employee correctly as it is almost impossible to find an employee guilty of a charge that is not supported by the evidence lead at the enquiry.
During a disciplinary enquiry process
- Ensure that an impartial individual is tasked with chairing the hearing. The chairperson must not be someone who has been involved in the incident or someone who will be suspected of being impartial. In circumstances where it is difficult to find an impartial chairperson from inside an organisation, it may be worth considering appointing an external chairperson.
- Ensure that a logical and sensible order of proceedings in followed during the enquiry and that both parties (the accused employee and the complainant) have an opportunity to make an opening statement, call witnesses, cross examine the other party’s witnesses and make closing statements.
- If a finding of guilt is made, ensure that both parties are able to lead evidence and make arguments in mitigation and/or aggravation of sanction.
- If the employee is dismissed the employee must be notified or his/her right to appeal the finding (if applicable) and/or his or her right to refer an unfair dismissal dispute to the CCMA or bargaining council, whichever is applicable.
- The parties must be provided with a logical and well-reasoned written finding of the outcome of the hearing.
Is Your Critical Illness Cover Keeping Up With The Times?
Critical illness cover was originally the brainchild of a forward-thinking surgeon who noticed more and more patients were struggling to make ends meet after recovering from life-threatening conditions.
Critical illness cover was originally the brainchild of a forward-thinking surgeon who noticed more and more patients were struggling to make ends meet after recovering from life-threatening conditions. This increase was driven by medical advances, which drove a spike in survival rates – and its consequential recovery costs – something that old school insurance policies did not factor into their products. And while we all know the medical field continues to move forward through innovation, it’s important to ask yourself: has your cover kept up?
Medical advances during the 1960s and 70s didn’t just lead to an increase in patients’ life expectancies, but it also led to financial difficulties for many survivors of critical illnesses and –injuries. Many of these patients were faced with rehabilitation costs and additional expenses caused by lifestyle and/or professional adjustments they had to make to stay on the road to recovery, and they struggled to make ends meet.
Dr Marius Barnard, brother of the famous Dr Christiaan Barnard and respected surgeon in his own right, identified an opportunity to provide these patients with risk cover for these needs. He partnered with a life insurer in 1983, and critical illness cover was born.
Initially covering only four major conditions, medical advances soon enabled the expansion of critical illness cover to many more conditions, like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, paraplegia, major burns and brain damage. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity and lack of exercise have increased the likelihood of critical illness claims, but the claims are becoming less severe, thanks to improved medical techniques for the treatment and detection of life-threatening conditions.
Where does critical illness fit into your financial plan?
While medical and, possibly, gap cover can make provision for medical expenses, critical illness cover is instrumental in covering any gaps and providing for lifestyle changes that result from conditions like paraplegia, like the expenses involving alterations to a home to be wheelchair-friendly.
Many medical aid schemes may also exclude certain treatments or not cover them in full, or you might have reached your annual limit. In these instances, critical illness cover may just come to the rescue.
Considering all the scenarios where critical illness products have the potential to come into play, it’s important to ask yourself how forward-thinking the insurance you signed up for really is. Does your insurer factor in the latest treatments, and have they adjusted the range of conditions they provide cover for to keep up with the latest medical research and survival rates?
How many conditions are covered?
Start by obtaining the list of conditions covered by your critical illness policy, because the number of conditions covered vary from company to company. There are life insurance providers that provide cover for over 300 conditions, while some assurers cover fewer than 100 conditions. Some life cover providers also take into account the treatment, clinical impact and effect of an illness, which ensures protection for as yet undiagnosed conditions – this is the kind of cover you should be signing up for.
How do the pay-outs work?
You should also consider the pay-out structure and/or –options of your critical illness policy. There are policies with pay-out options that are helpful for conditions that involve large expenses initially, followed by smaller amounts over a number of months. Importantly, you should be allowed to make certain choices about how your cover should pay out at claim stage, when you know what your physical and financial needs are.
What about smaller events, like accidents?
Forward thinking life cover providers have also identified a need for financial protection in instances where you might have less critical, but still traumatic illnesses or injuries and spent little or no time in hospital.
Just think about the myriad of costs involving corrective procedures, medical aid co-pays, hospital costs, rehabilitation, assistive devices, physiotherapy, wound care, nursing and surgery costs – not to mention being unable to earn an income while you recover from a serious illness or injury. Many of these expenses might be typically incurred just because you aren’t fully covered by medical aid schemes and gap cover products.
Innovations like cover that precisely matches your needs are done in the same spirit of innovation and matching the needs of patients as we saw with Dr Marius Barnard. So before signing up for, or selling your next critical illness policy, ask yourself: Does my cover provider do the same?
- Schalk Malan is the CEO of BrightRock, provider of the first ever needs-matched life insurance that changes as your life changes.
Keys To Simplify Payroll Compliance
Human resources departments across the country cite compliance as one of the top challenges they face. As an SME owner, it’s up to you to ensure that your company’s personnel business practices adhere to the current laws.
Keeping accurate records to document your company’s compliance is just the beginning, says Ania Strydom, Compliance Specialist at Sage.
1. Why is payroll compliance so important?
Payroll is the biggest expense for most employers. Employers must comply with all labour and tax laws that govern the payroll to avoid financial and legal risks and to protect the employees and the business. The risks of getting it wrong include:
- Interest or fines by authorities
- Imprisonment in cases of fraud or extreme negligence.
Payroll fraud is one of the most common white-collar crimes in the business world; what’s more, inaccurate payments and non-compliance can cost a business dearly.
2. What are the implications for staff if a company is non-compliant?
The payroll is one of the most crucial links in the employee-employer relationship. Late or inaccurate wage and salary payments, or inaccurate calculations of other earnings (such as overtime), deductions (such as PAYE and UIF), and contributions (such as retirement fund or UIF contributions) can be extremely damaging to the morale of the workforce.
By law, every employee is entitled to a payslip and tax certificate (IRP5/IT3(a)). Employees need payslips for purposes such as applying for personal or home loans. Accurate and easy to understand payslips will boost employee satisfaction and trust in the company, with a positive impact on business performance.
What’s more, employers must make sure UIF contributions are correct so that employees get the full amount they are entitled to if they need to claim.
3. How will the company’s growth prospects be affected if the company is non-compliant?
While an efficient payroll system enhances staff morale and boosts an organisation’s reputation, mistakes in record-keeping and compliance can result in punitive penalties and hurt the company’s brand. Compliance mistakes with payroll can be expensive and potentially catastrophic which subsequently results in business risks.
4. How can a business ensure it is payroll compliant?
South African tax regulations and labour laws are and continue to be more complex. Keeping track of all the payroll legislative requirements can be challenging, but the risks of non-compliance are high and businesses can no longer rely on spreadsheets and other manual methods to do their calculations, report and file returns.
Automated solutions are becoming more essential for keeping reliable records, reporting and performing accurate payroll calculations.
The package you choose should:
- Be tailored for the local tax law, labour law and regulatory environment
- Manage all the complex calculations and regulatory reporting the business must do timeously
- Feature automated updates to ensure the company always processes on the latest software and legislative version.
This will ensure it avoids censure, fines, penalties, interest and/or imprisonment as a result of non-compliance.
Why Your Employees’ Health Is Your SME’s Wealth
Absenteeism costs R16 billion annually, according to Stats SA. That’s a lot more than it costs to sign up for a group offering that is specifically designed for small to medium enterprises.
- Visit: www.fedhealth.co.za
- Call: 0860 002 153
Fedhealth’s Commercial Executive, Michelle Morton explains the importance of group health cover to keep your SME’s pulse strong.
1. Why is it important for a SME to care about the health of its employees?
First, when an employee in a critical role within the SME falls ill, there’s often nobody else to fill the skills void created by his or her absence. This can have a detrimental effect on the daily operations and business output.
Second, offering sound medical aid may attract and retain the right talent to the business.
Third, choosing a medical aid like Fedhealth, which places a big emphasis on preventative health and wellness, can also assist the SME owner in cultivating a healthy culture in the workplace.
2. What should business owners consider when looking for a group medical plan?
Apart from factors like affordability, a good reputation, and ability to pay claims, look for schemes that offer value-added services, such as wellness days where staff can undergo crucial health screenings, and programmes to address specific health issues.
3. What are the top health concerns for today’s workforce?
Back and neck pain are second to headaches when it comes to painful conditions affecting humans — especially office workers, who are often desk-bound for hours on end. Fedhealth offers qualifying members a 12-week Conservative Back and Neck Rehabilitation programme to help correct the problem through exercise and behaviour.
Diabetes and hypertension are also on the rise, while some employees face HIV/Aids, weight issues or struggle to quit smoking. Fedhealth provides assistance for all these diseases and health concerns.
4. How will the employees benefit from working for a company with a great group medical plan?
I believe it makes the business a more attractive place of work for employees, as medical aid is a much-needed benefit and costly if one has to pay for it out of one’s own pocket.
5. Please explain the importance of the SOS Corporate Wellness benefit
The Sisters-on-Site service (SOS Corporate Wellness) is a value-add as it brings basic healthcare to the office. This means that staff can regularly see a qualified nursing sister at their place of work for minor health issues, instead of having to take time off work to visit the doctor or clinic.
Employees build a rapport with the sister, as they see her on a frequent basis. Through the SOS Corporate Wellness benefit, they can also conduct important health screenings that might flag serious health issues of which the employees might be unaware. Sisters-on-Site can also facilitate monthly health themes to raise employee awareness on issues like breast cancer.
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