One of the “not so pleasant”, but necessary duties and prerogatives of the employer, is the enforcement of discipline.
Sound employee relations require that exercising this prerogative must be done equitably and fairly, in accordance with labour law requirements and must preferably be educational, constructive, and not punitive or vindictive.
This requires that, at least, the guidelines contained in Schedule 8, annexed to the Labour Relations Act (LRA), have to be adhered to when embarking on enforcing discipline in the workplace.
Central to exercising discipline, as a fair labour practice, is the disciplinary charge.
This charge is the “agenda” of the disciplinary proceedings and defines the parameters within which the ultimate disciplinary decisions regarding guilt/innocence and sanction are to be taken.
The guideline in Schedule 8 to the LRA, paragraph 4, requires that the formulation of the charge be preceded by some form of investigation to uncover the facts underpinning the alleged conduct or the incident concerned.
Once the investigation is completed and evidence of the breach of some workplace rule is established, the charge has to be formulated and based on this formulation, the case against the employee eventually stands or falls.