South Africans over the last few years have seen, heard and witnessed some pretty awful stuff. The hate-fueled vitriol spewing forth from some people has indeed been mind-boggling. Sadly, it has become evident that there remain an unfortunate number of racists in South Africa – across the colour spectrum. Not that any of this is news to any of us. Between our media and our social media, racists are being named-and-shamed with regular monotony. But racists should beware – it’s not just their good name that’s on the line. Even if the racist act isn’t deemed offensive enough to earn a jail sentence, their careers could well be on the line.
Why do your employees work for you? Be honest. Is it your boundless generosity? The awesome working environment? The character-building challenge of the projects? The invaluable experience? The office manager’s sparkling personality? Donuts on a Friday? The free coffee? All of the above? Let us not sugar-coat the truth. The real reason why employees work is for that all-important pay-cheque they get at the end of each month. And in a handful of cases, there are some employees who wouldn’t turn their noses up at the opportunity to tweak their take-home if they thought they could get away with it. Such an action may not be the wisest though, because dismissal may swiftly follow.
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.
With the amount of publicity around mental health recently, it was only a matter of time before an ill-advised employer decided to address the issue head-on. In their employment contract. The clause landed up in the Labour Court, where the judge lambasted it. And rightfully so.
The facts, briefly, related to an employee who was appointed as a sales rep. She signed an Employment Contract that included a rather disturbing clause. The employer decided to include a requirement that the employee must submit to psychiatric testing as and when the employer requests it. It would be alarming enough if this was a standard clause in their contract. But it wasn’t. This delightful little clause was inserted solely for this employee. Because she was bipolar. Despite the fact that her condition was being well-managed and in no way detracted from her work.
When a person is illiterate, s/he can “mark” a document, eg with an “X” or a fingerprint, and South African law recognises this as being his/her signature. But make sure that the terms of the agreement are clearly explained before requiring him/her to mark the contract of employment. Section 29 (3) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act provides that if an employee is not able to understand the particulars of employment, it is the employer’s duty to ensure that these particulars are explained to the employee in a language and in a manner that the employee understands.
With April behind us the nation has officially, and perhaps begrudgingly, returned to work. Which is a good thing. Someone needs to pay for the extra security features required by the First Family. And thus it is that we find, oddly enough, a common ground shared by our government and business-owners alike: the desire for businesses to grow, make money, and put an end to the economic-woes that have been dogging us for far too long. While the First Wives eye out shopping sprees and luxury vehicles, and business-owners set their hearts on a sleek new set of wheels, they set the whip cracking to achieve their objectives. Lest we forget, however, the key to growing a successful business is the humble employee. Finding the right employee, appointing the right employee, and keeping the right employee: success in these areas often spells success for the growing business. And yet, in the course of our dealings with businesses, we have often come across instances where an employer has appointed staff without letters of appointment or Employment Contracts. Or they can’t find the employee’s written terms of employment when are asked to produce them.