Employees Have The Right To Prepare For Disciplinary Hearings

30th October 2018

Employees Have The Right To Prepare For Disciplinary Hearings

Employees facing disciplinary hearings are entitled to many rights including that of the proper opportunity to prepare for the hearing in advance. This right stems from the more basic right that accused employees have to defend themselves against the charges brought.

The employee’s right to sufficient opportunity to prepare has three facets:

In the case of Oliver vs Universiteit van Stellenbosch (Contemporary Labour Law Vol. 14 No. 9 April 2005) a forensic investigation report implicated Oliver in certain irregularities. Six days before the hearing was due to begin the employee requested documents he needed for the hearing and requested that the hearing be postponed. These requests were refused.

As a result the employee applied to the High Court for an order requiring the employer to provide the requested documentation and further particulars of the charges. The Court ruled that:

This decision acts as a warning to employers in that:

Employers are also reminded that, where the employee is allowed external legal representation at the disciplinary hearing, the employer needs to be sure that the official acting as complainant (initiator or prosecutor) and the person chairing the hearing both have the legal expertise necessary to cope with the expertise of the employee’s attorney, advocate or union official.

Written by Ivan Israelstam, Chief Executive of Labour Law Management Consulting. He may be contacted on 0828522973 or on e-mail address: ivan@labourlawadvice.co.za.