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Two of the biggest mistakes made when firing employees

The following is an article I contributed to Formfactory, who asked various experts in labour relations and labour law, “What are the biggest mistakes employers make when firing employees?”
Please add your ideas to the conversation below.

Since employers lose some 60% of cases referred to the CCMA, serious mistakes are being made. Two of the biggest are:

  1. Failure to decide the real reason for dismissal

According to Chapter 8 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA), there are only three legitimate grounds for dismissal: misconduct, incapacity (which includes poor performance) and the employer’s operational requirements. Since the Code of Good Practice: Dismissal (LRA Schedule 8) prescribes different procedures for each of these, it is essential to know what the reason for dismissal is. Incorrect procedures are just as fatal to one’s case as invalid findings.

  1. Acting too quickly

Failure to act when an employee misbehaves or performs poorly is a serious mistake. However, rushing to a disciplinary hearing because the manager is angry and feels betrayed, is even more so.

A proper investigation is essential. It will show

  • what actually happened or didn’t happened
  • who was involved
  • what rule was broken or performance standard was not met and whether (and how) the employee knew about the rule or standard.
  • what evidence the employer has (what can be proved)
  • which procedures to follow: incapacity (poor performance) or misconduct.

For the Formfactory article, see here
See also Simply Communicate: Seven Questions You Need to Ask Before a Disciplinary Enquiry

Ian Webster

From Methodist minister to Customer Relations manager in a computer bureau to HR Manager in a newspaper printing and publishing company. Now focussing on training and developing people, people-management consulting and writing and editing.

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