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Guidelines for Disciplinary hearings

Many employees do not know how disciplinary action or hearings against them must take place. By following these basic rules you can defend yourselves.


1. The person against whom charges are being brought must be informed of the charges, preferably in writing, in a language that he may reasonably be expected to understand.

2. He must be informed of the place, date and time of the hearing.

3. He must be allowed presentation at the hearing whether by a colleague or a trade union representative. The representative will only be in workplaces in which the particular trade union has organizational rights.

4. A trade union shop steward is generally a co-worker, i.e. not an employee of the trade union.

5. Reasonable time must be given for the person being charged to prepare for the hearing.

6. The individual facing charges can call witnesses to testify on his behalf.

7. He can question the employer’s witnesses.

8. He must be given an opportunity at a hearing to put his case.

9. It is very important that the people facing charges should state his case to the employer’s witnesses. If he disagrees with their testimony he must make this clear and provide reasons for disagreeing.

10. The right to remain silent should be preferably not exercised, except in cases that may lead to criminal charges (e.g. fraud, theft or assault).

11. Remember a guilty plea to the charges means that you will not be able to bring subsequent charges against the employer.

12. After the hearing, the employer must inform you (preferably in writing) of the outcome.

13. If the hearing result in dismissal, the employer must furnish reason for the dismissal and of all rights that you may have to challenge the finding.

14. The challenge may include the right to appeal, but the latter is not legally required and therefore not compulsory. The employer is, however, compelled to allow if there is a collective agreement between the employer and the workers or trade unions.

15. The employer must also inform the dismissed worker of his right to refer the matter to the relevant bargaining council or the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

16. An alleged unfair dismissal must be referred to the relevant body within thirty (30) days.


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