Tag Archives: zero tolerance policy

My employee can’t read or write

Q: I’ve heard that a strictly applied zero tolerance policy is legal. Is there anything I need to watch out for?

I own a small retail store. One of my biggest headaches is theft, which has a big impact on my bottom-line. What concerns me is that I suspect one or two of my staff members may be helping themselves to stock, but I haven’t yet been able to prove it. I’m thinking of implementing a new procedure, similar to what the large retail chains do: all staff need to declare personal possessions when they arrive for work. When they leave, they get searched. And if they have undeclared possessions on them (obviously possessions that are also available for sale in my store) they need to produce the sales receipt proving that they purchased it during the day. If they don’t, it’s treated as theft and they get an immediate dismissal. I’ve heard that a strictly applied zero tolerance policy is legal. Is there anything I need to watch out for?

Can an employee be dismissed for a minor transgression based on a zero tolerance policy?

South African labour law recognises that it is sometimes necessary for a company to implement a zero tolerance policy. This is especially so where the policy is in place to counter what would otherwise be a serious risk to the Company. But that doesn’t mean that the company can act with impunity.

So, can a Company dismiss an employee for a minor transgression on the basis of its Zero Tolerance policy? To answer this question, consider the 2015 case of Shoprite Checkers v Tokiso Dispute Settlement. Shoprite Checkers implemented a policy that on entering the store, all employees were required to declare any personal possessions that they were bringing onto the property. Employees were then searched upon leaving the premises. Employees who were found with items that had not been declared were required to produce the sales receipt for the items. If an employee failed to do so it was presumed that the they had stolen the item from the store, and would be subject to dismissal.