Here’s something I see more and more. In order to save a bit of money, employers often conduct their own disciplinary hearings. Understandable, with the economy being what it is.
The problem is, if it is not done properly, it WILL cost you a fair amount of money at CCMA or Bargaining Council. Every time I warn employers about the dangers, I get the same response: “But I have a strong case! He / she was caught stealing on camera”… or something similar.
To that I say FANTASTIC!
But having concrete evidence of wrongdoing only gets you halfway. Arbitrators (CCMA Commissioners) have to consider a matter on TWO fronts – both SUBSTANTIVE and PROCEDURAL fairness. Your undeniable evidence only gets you a tick in the Substantive box. If you fail on the Procedural front, the employee WILL get an award. And recent case law shows that those awards can be anything in excess of 2 months’ salary.
Remember, the maximum award at CCMA or BC for unfair dismissal is 12 months’ salary. And it DOES happen!
So, if you’re not 100% certain of your Procedural prowess in disciplinary hearings, do yourself a HUGE favour and get some professional assistance.
Because prevention is cheaper than cure!