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Labour relations and the fairness standards for dismissal of an employee in South Africa have long been centred around the formality of disciplinary or incapacity enquiry processes, and the tradition of the usage of these processes has built up an expectation that they are mandatory.
A common occurrence in the employment relationship is for an employee to resign in the face of disciplinary action by an employer, and South African courts have previously accepted that as long as an employee resigns with immediate effect, the employer has no power to compel the former employer to go through any disciplinary process.
The Labour Court in a recent judgment, Mthobisi Mthimkhulu v Standard Bank of South Africa (J928/20) (18 September 2020) considered whether an employee who has been found guilty of serious misconduct can avoid the ultimate sanction of dismissal by resigning before the employer imposes the sanction.
Contrary to popular belief, companies may be within their rights to secretly record conversations with employees and use that information against them in a court of law. However, the reverse is also true. This has the potential to significantly change the dynamic in the workplace.
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