Previously, in Protecting the Secret… The employer and ex-employee are in the ring, slowly circling each other, acutely aware of their opponent’s every movement, each bracing for the next blow. The employer has taken an early lead, but the beads of sweat evident on his forehead give away his uncertainty. The ex-employee has lost some of the confidence and bravado that was evident before The Great Reveal: restraints of trade can be enforced. But clings grimly to the glimmer of hope inherent in the proviso to The Great Reveal: not all restraints of trade are enforceable. They can be struck down if found to be contrary to public policy. The crowd holds its collective breath, with the employers rooting for the sanctity of contract and the employees cheering loudly in support of freedom of trade. Who will gain the upper hand and emerge the victor?
Previously, in Protecting the Secret… Our protagonists, the employer and the employee, negotiated an employment contract under false pretexts. While the employer gushed about benefits, bonuses and increases, in reality the benefit was getting to the office early enough to nab the shaded parking, the bonus comprised the rare lunch hour, and the only thing increasing was the employee’s stress level. Meanwhile, the employee’s sales pitch at the job interview, punting an eagerness to learn and a burning desire to become one with the team, masked an ulterior motive: minimum input at maximum salary.
If the secret to a business’ success lies in its staff, then the most critical point for the business is at the recruitment and hiring stage. In most instances, both employer and prospective employee have been there, done that, know what to expect. The advert, the application, the interview, the offer, the acceptance, the signature and voilà – the new recruit is on board. Birds sing sweetly, roses bloom, and blossoms fall gently from the trees as the newbie, stomach churning with butterflies, enters the building, to be greeted by a sea of smiling faces eager to welcome the new addition to their happy little family. And they worked comfortably, profitably and amicably together, happily ever after.
Every business came from somewhere. Perhaps your business was born amidst greasy carburetors and worn out spark plugs in a dark and dusty corner of your garage. Mayhaps the seed germinated at what was once the dining room table which soon morphed into a make-shift desk, home to cables, computers and copies of DIY business guides while the kids were relegated to balancing supper on their laps in front of the TV. No matter why, where or when conception began, few feelings match the adrenaline, excitement, anticipation, fear and hope experienced by its creator. Given the dismal mortality rate of newborn businesses, the pride and indeed euphoria when your offspring succeeds in life is almost incomparable. As time progresses, this fledgling business will hopefully survive teething, growth spurts and the occasional tumble, and finally allow its creator the luxury of sleep-filled nights. Assuming the creator doesn’t give in to the temptation to kill it off in its teenage years, during which its pace of growth, willful resistance and impulsive experimentation often strains the creator’s wallet and sanity, this once fledgling business will (hopefully) emerge a strong, competent, successful and profitable enterprise, able to hold its own in the big bad world.
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.
With Easter having come and gone, the world’s most beloved rabbit has since hopped off to find a warm and comfortable spot to settle down for Winter. Unfortunately for the rest of us, our tasks aren’t confined to a single day in the year. Whilst digging deeper into the duvet may be the preferred choice for most, the combined demands of clients, kids and creditors ensures that hibernation is not an option. An added curse of Winter can be found in the form of Eskom. If you are in the fortunate position of being unaffected by load-shedding, you find yourself paying through the nose for every shred of heat that you can scrounge. And so it is, in a roundabout kind of way, that you may find yourself seeking warmer premises to rent for your home or office. Preferably with large North-facing windows so that the Sun may warm your frost-bitten self, without having to resort to the electric heater.
Employment can be a dangerously hazardous affair. What with the rising occurrences of swine flu, bird flu, yuppie flu, man flu, phantom flu, even the near-fatal garden-variety common-cold, and not to mention that most debilitating of illness – the inability to work on the days before or after a public holiday. Whilst the dangers are nowhere more obvious than in the public sector if the headlines are anything to go by, the self-same challenges exist in the private sector as well. As the month of April descends upon us, employers are warned to be on the alert for the anticipated escalation of Public-Holiday-itus. Few are likely to escape unscathed!
In the words of Dale Carnegie: “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” No truer words when your business bears your name.
If you own your own business, it is likely that you spent many hours agonising over just the right name. Perhaps your business is named after yourself. Perhaps the name of your business reflects some meaning that is personal to you. Or perhaps you just really like the sound of it. But be open to the very real likelihood that your business venture will undergo a myriad of changes as time progresses. And consider whether you need to put in place any protection with regards to the company name, particularly if it is named after you or if you have a sentimental attachment to the name.
This year we witness a once-in-every-four-years phenomenon: the Leap Year. The elusive 29th February, through its rarity, holds a certain mystique with more than its fair share of traditions. Coupled with the month’s long-standing association with love, this is the day when women the world over are granted a licence usually reserved for the domain of men: the rare opportunity to propose to her man.
‘Tis the month of love, and roses abound. But as the international day of love comes around, you may find that there are certain employees to whom you’d rather give the boot than a bouquet. The employer-employee relationship is not always a bed of roses: occasionally you find yourself dealing with a few thorns. Such as an employee who drinks on duty, persists in arriving late or leaving early, stubbornly refuses to follow instructions, wilfully disregards company policies, siphons off company property ………. fill in the blank! Difficult though it may be, you would be well-cautioned against acting on a knee-jerk, and instantly showing your employee the door. Unless the thought of dealing with the CCMA is an appealing one to you, here are a few guidelines that may help you in disciplining the wayward employee.