A disciplinary hearing or enquiry is a process that follows an alleged act of misconduct by an employee. An employee who is notified to attend a disciplinary hearing has by no means been found guilty as yet and the enquiry is a procedure followed by the business, to provide the employee with an opportunity to present their version of events…. An “opportunity to be heard”.
A neutral and objective chairperson, with no background to the case chairs the disciplinary hearing. Taking into consideration both the Company’s perspective on the matter as well as that of the employee and listening to all evidence presented, all witness statements and all cross questioning from both sides, making a finding as to whether the employee is guilty or not guilty.
If the employee is found not guilty by the chairperson, nothing is placed on file, and all parties return to work. Should the employee be found guilty of the transgression, the Company as well as the employee will be given an opportunity to present mitigating and aggravating circumstances.
Aggravating circumstances outline why the sanction or punishment for a guilty finding should be harsh. Examples would be things like the fact that it was not an isolated incident and that the employee has received prior warnings to the disciplinary hearing. Or the fact that the employee has only been employed for a short period of time etc.
Mitigating circumstances will include things like extensive years of service, a clean disciplinary record and so forth.
The chairperson will then recommend a sanction that is suitable and substantively fair in terms of precedent case law and in doing to minimise the risk of repercussions, should the employee refer the outcome to the CCMA.
It is important that a disciplinary hearing is managed correctly and that all rights of the employee are respected, such as the right to representation, to an interpreter, to call witnesses etc. Not following the correct procedure when holding a disciplinary enquiry can result in repercussions for the business from a procedural fairness point of view.
Cape Town Labour Consultants offer professional chairpersons for assisting with disciplinary hearings, make sure you book your consultant today.