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Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997 (Act No. 75 of 1997)

Codes of Good Practice

Code of Good Practice for Employment and Conditions of work for Expanded Public Works Programmes

16. Disciplinary Sanctions



An employer may take the following steps when exercising discipline—


16.1) Verbal Warning


A verbal warning may be issued for minor disciplinary offences. The purpose of the warning is to explain to the worker what the rules are, encourage the worker to comply with them and advise that if the conduct is repeated the employer may take more serious action. Only one verbal warning is required before moving to written warnings.


Examples of minor offences:



16.2) Written warning


16.2.1) A written warning may be issued for repeated minor offences or for more serious offences. The employer should investigate the charge before issuing a warning. The worker should be asked to respond and explain his or her conduct. The warning should state the offence and the period for which the warning is valid. Generally, this should be for six months, although warnings for more serious offences could be issued for a year or for the remainder of the worker's employment on an EPWP. If the employer believes that the offence is serious, the warning should state that it is a final written warning and that a repeat of the offence could lead to the worker's dismissal). Otherwise, two written warnings are suggested prior to dismissal.


16.2.2) A written record of the charge, the explanation and the agreed change in behaviour or performance is dated, signed and handed to the worker as a written warning. A copy of the written warning is kept in the worker's file for the period of its validity.


Examples of offences in which a written warning may be appropriate:

Repeated minor offences.
Drunkenness (if it does not affect work performance).
Fighting, swearing.
Abusive behaviour.
Non co-operation as a team member.
Negligent use of programme equipment (if it does not affect health and safety).
Failure to attend a training event.


16.3) Dismissal


16.3.) Generally, an employer should not dismiss a worker for a first offence.However, a worker may be dismissed if it is a serious offence that would make continued employment intolerable even if the worker has previously had a clean record. Before dismissing a worker, the employer must consider whether dismissal is the appropriate sanction.


16.3.2) Examples of serious offences which may warrant dismissal:
Wilful and/or negligent damage to equipment, machinery and vehicles.
Actions which could lead to criminal charges being laid - e.g. serious assault; theft; fraud.
Sexual harassment, including rape.
Actions which create a danger to the health and safety of co-workers.
Any offence for which the worker has received a final written warning.
Drunkenness, if it affects the ability to work, for instance, a driver or a chain-saw operator being drunk.
Repeated less serious offences drunkenness, fighting, swearing, failure to properly perform tasks, etc.
Misuse of programme equipment, for instance, a worker using it for their own benefit.


16.4) Poor work performance


16.4.1) An employer may take action against a worker for poor work performance. Workers must be informed of the standard of work performance expected of them. If they do not meet this standard, the employer should consider ways of helping them meet the standard. This could include counselling or guidance, training or giving clearer instructions. The worker must be given a reasonable opportunity to improve their work performance. If their performance does not improve, the employer can take corrective action, including dismissal if considered appropriate.


16.4.2) If a worker is not performing adequately in a job requiring special skills, the employer should consider transferring the worker to another job.