When we assist a client with the implementation of employment contracts, we recommend that the client also implement a disciplinary code and that all employees are made aware of the contents of the disciplinary code.
The purpose of a disciplinary code is to ensure that employees are aware of the Employer’s rules and regulations, and that they are followed in the workplace in order to ensure that discipline is maintained.
In terms of Schedule 8 item 7 of the Labour Relations Act:
Any person who is determining whether a dismissal for misconduct is unfair should consider—
- whether or not the employee contravened a rule or standard regulating conduct in, or of relevance to, the work-place; and
- if a rule or standard was contravened, whether or not—
- the rule was a valid or reasonable rule or standard;
- the employee was aware, or could reasonably be expected to have been aware, of the rule or standard;
- the rule or standard has been consistently applied by the employer; and
- dismissal with an appropriate sanction for the contravention of the rule or standard.
The above guidelines mention a rule or standard, this is implemented using the disciplinary code. This means that if the employee is not aware of the rules they cannot be found guilty if they did not keep to the rules.
The Basic Conditions of Employment Act, makes reference to the fact that each employee must be aware of the terms and conditions of employment, so in order to protect the interest of the business, it is recommended that a disciplinary code must be in place in every business.
The golden rule is every employee must have a personnel file, where a paper trial is kept of every disciplinary action that is instituted against the every employee. This includes verbal warnings and disciplinary discussions held.
In practice we see the effect of not having a disciplinary code. What seems like a lot of useless work today, will save you from going to the CCMA tomorrow.
“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most” – Abraham Lincoln