Disciplinary hearing? Common mistakes made by employers and employees

As an employer, you have to be prepared to deal with a disciplinary hearing in the correct way. You have to avoid making mistakes – to protect yourself and your employees. As an employee, you don’t want to find yourself in a place where you need to be disciplined. If you ever do, however, you need to conduct yourself in the correct manner – to protect yourself but also any future relationship you might still have with your employer.

What follows are some common mistakes that employers and employees respectively make. You want to avoid making these mistakes.

Mistakes to avoid for employers

1. Inconsistency regarding the disciplinary process

You have to apply the rules to every employee in a fair and consistent manner when it comes to disciplinary action. How you apply a rule to one employee sets the precedent for how future employees should be treated in that same situation. In doing this, you also need to consider each case on its own merits. If you remain consistent and fair in how you apply the rules for disciplinary hearing conduct, you can’t be investigated for unfair disciplinary hearing labour practices.

2. Assuming employees know the policies

Don’t take it for granted that an employee knows the company policies and procedures. In labour law, the employee actually has the right not to know the law. This means that ignorance is an excuse. If your employee does not know what the disciplinary policies are, then he or she cannot be held liable. Be sure to keep all your employees informed of the disciplinary policies.

3. Not following the basic rules of disciplinary hearing

It is important to follow the proper procedures for a free and fair disciplinary hearing. If you do not, you could be taken to the CCMA.

4. Not recording the disciplinary hearing

Keep complete and professional documentation that records the disciplinary process. Keeping a digital record is advisable. This way, you have a full record of the disciplinary process to provide as evidence if you are taken to the CCMA by the employee you dismissed.

Mistakes to avoid for employees

1. Misunderstanding the standard of proof for a disciplinary hearing

This is not a criminal trial, your employer is not required to provide a watertight case that proves your guilt beyond reasonable doubt. A disciplinary hearing operates on a balance of probabilities. This means that your employer has to show that it is more probable than not that his or her version of events is correct. You can’t just sit back and trust that your employer can’t prove “you did it”. You have to be able to bring your own case that refutes the employer’s case. You have to show that your version of events is more likely.

2. Unwillingness to admit any form of wrongdoing

In the event that you are found to have committed some form of wrongdoing, it is important to be able to show your employer that you acknowledge your mistakes. If you cannot, and if you cannot recommit to the values of the company, there will be lingering doubt as to whether you will repeat the offence. A lack of remorse will make it difficult to convince your employer to take a chance on keeping you on the team. Acknowledging your wrongdoing, pledging your full support and committing changing your behaviour can play a significant role in whether the employer feels he or she can keep you.

Need help?

If you require any help on a matter regarding a disciplinary hearing or another related matter, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@gunstons.com.

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