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WHY DISCIPLINARY RULES ARE IMPORTANT!

What is Discipline?

  • The process of maintaining compliance with the rules of the Company.
  • There must be rules for conduct to maintain order in the workplace.
  • Non-compliance to rules usually results in punishment to correct behaviour.

What is the purpose of Disciplinary Rules & Regulations?

  • To provide general guidelines indicating the standard of performance and conduct required of all employees.
  • To provide a uniforms set of disciplinary rules and regulations which:
  • Employees are expected to abide by; and
  • Managers are expected to uphold.

What is generally expected of Employees?

  • Be familiar with and observe the company’s rules and regulations.
  • Ignorance is not a valid reason for a transgression.

What is generally expected of the Employer?

  • Rules are fair and reasonable.
  • Employees are aware of the rules, or could reasonably by expected to be aware thereof.
  • Rules are applied consistently.
  • Appropriateness of sanctions if rules were transgressed.

Over and above Company rules, both parties must abide by Common Law duties of employment.

What Common Law duties must Employees abide by?

  • Place their services at the disposal of the Employer.
  • Keep the required hours.
  • Perform duties in a satisfactory manner to an acceptable standard.
  • Obey lawful and reasonable instructions.
  • Observe the Employer’s rules and not commit acts of misconduct.
  • Act in good faith and in the Employer’s best interests.

What Common Law duties must Employers abide by?

  • Provide the agreed terms of employment.
  • Pay the agreed salary or wage and provide the employee with work.
  • Provide safe working conditions.
  • Deal with employees in a fair manner

What happens if Disciplinary Rules are contravened?

  • Transgressions may be subject to disciplinary action.
  • Such action must be Procedurally and Substantively Fair.

What does Procedural Fairness require?

  • Compliance with the Company’s Disciplinary Procedures.
  • Compliance with the Law (relevant to discipline).

What does Substantive Fairness require?

  • The evidence must prove guilt.
  • The penalty must fit the crime.

Are there different levels of disciplinary action?

  • Some transgressions are more serious than others.
  • LEVEL 1:  LESS SERIOUS (MINOR) TRANSGRESSIONS
    • The Employee’s manager handles breaches of these rules, through counselling and progressive disciplinary measures up to a written warning.
    • Examples of minor transgressions include late coming and negligence.
  • LEVEL 2:  SERIOUS (MAJOR) TRANSGRESSIONS
    • A formal disciplinary enquiry must be convened for such breaches.
    • If found guilty, potential sanctions may include final written warnings, dismissals with/without notice, summary dismissal, etc.
    • Examples of major transgressions include dishonesty, assault, gross negligence and insubordination.

In summary:

  • Employees must know what the rules are. Communicate them!
  • You cannot abide by the rules (or enforce the rules) if you don’t know what the rules are.
  • Familiarise yourself with the Disciplinary Rules and Disciplinary Procedure of your Company to ensure compliance.

Compiled by : Rene de Waal

For more information on understanding the procedural and substantive fairness requirements of the Labour Relations Act of 1995, click here.