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Employment Equity Act, 1998 (Act No. 55 of 1998)

Code of Good Practice

Integration of Employment Equity into Human Resource Policies and Practices

Part B : During Employment

20. Discipline, Grievance and Dispute Resolution20


This section of the Code is based on the principle that employers and employees should treat each other with mutual respect. To this end, the Code seeks to balance the right of employees to fair employment practices against the right of employers to expect satisfactory conduct and performance by employees.


20.1 SCOPE


20.1.1 This section deals with issues employers may consider when managing grievances filed by employees or disciplining employees for transgressing workplace policies and practices.




20.2.1 The manner in which discipline and grievance are managed can generate conflict in a workplace and may undermine employment equity achievements and policies. Employers should ensure that their disciplinary and grievance policies are consistently and impartially applied.


20.2.2 This section of the Code is not intended to serve as a substitute for grievance or disciplinary procedures concluded at a workplace. An employer should evaluate whether their existing grievance, discipline and dispute resolution procedures are conducive to dealing with unfair discrimination and harassment.




The Grievance Process


20.3.1 Unfair discrimination or allegations of a breach of the Act should be dealt with as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. Conflict is best managed if addressed expeditiously and according to fair and impartial principles.


20.3.2 Employers should endeavour to protect complainants and ensure that complaints and grievances lodged are dealt with sensitively and discretely.


20.3.3 Employers should take disciplinary action against any employee who retaliates against a fellow employee for using the grievance procedure to address a concern or grievance concerning an alleged act of harassment, unfair discrimination or a breach of the Act.


20.3.4 Employers should consider workplace policies that make any act of unfair discrimination or breach of the Act a form of very serious misconduct.


20.3.5 Employers should ensure that employees are aware of or can reasonably be expected to be aware of workplace policies and practices, particularly in relation to unfair discrimination.


20.3.6 Employers are responsible for ensuring the consistent application and enforcement of policies to avoid allegations of arbitrary or unfair application of discipline on the basis of one or more of the prohibited grounds. Policies on discipline must apply equally to all employees.


20.3.7 Disciplinary action should seek to correct an employee's behaviour. Disciplinary measures may include counselling, warnings or creative solutions. The primary aim of discipline should be to encourage a culture of respect for difference and dignity.


20.3.8 Employers should value and encourage greater awareness of diversity.


20.3.9 Employers should keep a record of all grievances, disputes and disciplinary actions taken and conduct regular audits to determine the extent to which: employees have utilised the procedures. This information should be disaggregated by race, gender and disability; the grievances filed by employees where breaches of the Act are alleged; and the outcome of processes.


20.3.10 Employers may use the outcome of this review to assess whether its policies are being utilised and whether they are being used to address grievances and disputes that arise in the workplace in relation to unfair discriminatory practices or any other breaches of the Act.




20.4.1 Working environment - Conflict is inherent in workplaces. Employers need to manage the manifestations of conflict in a manner that discourages unfair discrimination.


20.4.2 Harassment - Employees must be made aware that harassment is serious misconduct, and it will be dealt with effectively and efficiently.



20 Schedule 8 of the Labour Relations Act, which includes the Code of Good Practice on Dismissal deals with some of the key aspects of dismissals for reasons related to conduct and capacity. The Code of Good Practice on Dismissal also deals with termination based on operational requirements.