HR Managers in Hearings
Two cases handed down recently from the Employment Appeal Tribunal concern HR managers in hearings.
The case of Ramphal v. Department of Transport decided in the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) last month held that HR advisors not involved in a disciplinary process (or only involved in the investigations) cannot influence disciplinary outcome decisions.
The employee’s manager heard evidence and considered a case of personal expenses on a company credit card to be genuine. His report gave the employee a final written warning for serious misconduct but HR later amended the outcome to gross misconduct and dismissal. HR were not part of the original hearing process and therefore the dismissal was held to be unfair.
The case of Arnold Clark Automobiles v. Spoor dealt with two fighting employees where the manager ensured they shake hands and ‘make up’. The manager informed HR. Despite the manager considering the matter closed, HR held formal investigations, suspensions and disciplinary hearings leading to a dismissal. HR stated in their outcome that the company had a zero-tolerance violence policy. The appeal manager agreed and upheld the dismissal.
However, the EAT held both the disciplinary and appeal officers failed to consider the employee’s length of service, clean disciplinary record or the resolution to the incident (i.e. – employees shook hands and ‘made up’). The dismissal was ruled unfair as there was no evidence of a zero-tolerance policy towards violence.
Both cases serve as reminders to HR managers to follow all rules associated with disciplinaries.