In 2017 the industry wage negotiations took place and the challenge is to ensure that the Main Agreement is implemented consistently within our industry. Your knowledge is vital to this equation. We need to protect and grow this valuable industry which we are a part of; that also means helping individual companies with difficulties that may arise. We will endeavour to best represent your interests during this process, based upon the mandate from SEIFSA’s 23 Employer Associations. In addition, we will keep you up to date with the latest and relevant happenings on industrial relations matters, including the negotiations, which will also include workshops to ensure that companies are prepared for any eventuality, such as managing industrial action. We also want to clear up common misunderstandings such as :
MAIN AGREEMENT AND THE BASIC CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT ACT.
- How do they differ?
- Which employees are covered by which legislation?
- What takes precedence, the Main Agreement or the Basic Conditions of Employment Act?
- What are the key components of each?
Another area that companies battle to manage effectively is Authorised vs Unauthorised Absenteeism. Here one needs to identify what is authorised absenteeism and what is not. What is the appropriate action to take in instances where leave is unauthorised and the employee does not have permission to be off? In addition and importantly, how does one correctly manage various types of leave, such as:
- Sick Leave: when should an employee bring a sick note, what is a valid sick note and what about traditional healers?
- Family responsibility leave: when is it applicable, how many days FRL do employees get and what proof can the company demand?
- Maternity leave and the requirements there of?
- What does the law say about other types of leave, compassionate leave, study leave, shop steward leave and annual leave?
- Dealing with poor timekeeping and strategies to minimise poor timekeeping?
- What should you do if an employee deserts (doing nothing leaves you vulnerable to an accusation of unfair dismissals)?
- How do absenteeism and various types of leave taking during the year affect an employee’s annual leave calculation?
CHAIRING A DISCIPLINARY HEARING
Turning our attention to matters of exercising discipline in a fair and effective manner, including chairing disciplinary hearings, SEIFSA is involved with many companies where we not only advise on disciplinary matters, but also chair disciplinary hearings for companies. Companies use SEIFSA for various reasons, such as:
- Ensuring the hearing is done correctly (you need to ensure procedural and substantive fairness);
- Dismissing people is often a function most would rather not do, and so the option to use SEIFSA is an attractive one;
- It ensures that the chairperson is impartial, with no vested interest in the matter, besides it being done properly.
Ensuring that discipline is handled properly can be tricky. There are many things to consider, such as:
- Is it necessary to have a disciplinary policy and code and should employees be aware of these before one starts disciplining?
- What is admissible evidence?
- If a conversation or meeting is recorded without the knowledge of one of the parties that it is being recorded, (1) is it illegal to record without the consent of the other party? (2) Can the party that did the recording be charged criminally if found out? (3) And can this recording or a transcript thereof be used or permitted to be used as evidence at the CCMA?
- In obtaining evidence from witnesses, how best can one ensure that the witness does not change his/her evidence in the hearing?
- May an employee use legal representation or the union official from the union office?
- What does one do if an employee does not appear for his/her hearing, when simply carrying on without them could lead to successful allegations of unfairness.
- How does a plea of guilty impact upon the hearing?
- How formal must a formal hearing be?
- Can you follow a different procedure when issuing warnings and can the employee exercise the same rights as they would for a potential dismissal hearing?
An employee’s duty of good faith is put to a tough test when a fellow employee perpetrates misconduct. What does an employee do if he or she witnesses, or becomes aware of, such misconduct? May he or she remain silent? Not reporting the wrongdoer could be a breach of the duty of good faith. And what if the employer specifically asks witnesses to come forward? In that case, could a refusal or failure to assist the employer cause serious damage to the relationship of trust? How far does “the right to remain silent” extend? It may be raised by a defendant in criminal law, but does it mean anything in the employment relationship? How does it weigh up against the employee’s duty of good faith?
Looking at Job Grades, pay rates and the industry grading system, are you grading your employees correctly? It’s obviously important because if you don’t, you could be underpaying employees, and we know what issues that can cause. The Main Agreement has a grading system that is complex to the untrained. Besides being a difficult exercise, it is also a tedious one for most. To assist in this area, SEIFSA has grading experts that can do the tedious work for you – and do it correctly. On 24 March 2017, SEIFSA is offering a Training Course on Grading, where you will get input, an overview and clarity on these matters and meet SEIFSA’s grading expert, whom you will be able to question endlessly.