Employment contract

Fair dismissal

I’m reasonably certain that one of my employees has been stealing from me, but I haven’t been able to catch her red-handed. I was thinking of simply firing her and sucking up the payment order from the CCMA. I’ve heard she can’t claim more than 12 months salary. I’d rather pay that than risk more shrinkage. The stock she’s been stealing is expensive.      

As you probably know, to dismiss an employee legally the dismissal needs to be both substantively fair and procedurally fair.

In the course of action that you are considering, you have correctly assumed that the dismissal would undoubtedly be found to be unfair. However, proceeding with this approach could cost you more than just a sum of money in compensation. The dismissal is substantively unfair – because you don’t have enough evidence of misconduct – and therefore the CCMA will most likely order re-instatement. In other words, you would be ordered to give the employee her job back.

In your case you would be better placed exploring other avenues, such as improving your security, and changing your stock management controls and procedures. You could also consider moving the employee into a different role in your company where she isn’t required to handle stock. Alternatively, you could consult with an HR specialist to consider the optimum solution, which could, for example, include suspending her pending an investigation to determine if you can find evidence linking her to the thefts.