South Africa is a beautifully multi-coloured, multi-cultural, multi-lingual country, comprising of people hailing from all walks of life. We certainly are a Rainbow Nation in every sense. It’s one thing to acknowledge and celebrate our eclectic melting pot. But in some cases that’s not enough. Where appropriate, and particularly in situations where justice demands it, other people’s cultural differences require more than just lip-service. One such example is in the employment relationship.
I’m going to hold a disciplinary hearing to hopefully dismiss a staff member. She is demanding that I provide a Xhosa interpreter for her during the hearing. Is this really necessary? Sure, her English isn’t great but she can understand it.
Yes, it is necessary. Your employee has a right to an interpreter during the disciplinary enquiry. If you fail to provide one this may be grounds for her to challenge her dismissal (assuming there’s sufficient evidence to dismiss her) on the basis of procedural unfairness.
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.
The antics of the unpopular president in a certain country across the Atlantic has ushered in much commentary about his Reality TV Show, The Apprentice. Where his signature line, “You’re Fired!” has no doubt tempted more than a few frustrated employers, who would dearly love to employ the same tactics. But the few that do will generally find themselves on the losing end of the resultant court action.
Previously, in Protecting the Secret… We left the employer and employee mulling the latest revelation: Restraints of Trade can be enforced, but only if the employer has a legitimate proprietary interest, worthy of legal protection, that will be jeopardized if the employee joins the opposition. Is the employer motivated by vindictiveness, or a genuine desire to protect the valuable confidential information that was given to the employee? Is the employee on the verge of gleefully transferring a few terabytes worth of confidential information to the competitor, or simply looking forward to earning an honest salary in exchange for a hard day’s work? Does the restraint do more than merely restrict competition?
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?