Policies and procedures

The relationship between the employer and the employee is based on mutual benefits and respect. Clear rules and guidelines ensure that friction and misunderstandings are kept to a minimum, which in turn promotes not only productivity but also a positive working environment. Labour risk is a huge business risk. To ensure the sustainability and profitability of your business, labour risk needs to be managed in a pro-active manner. The employer must therefore have clear rules and guidelines in the workplace and ensure that every employee is aware of these rules.Rules are implemented in the workplace through the employment contract and policies. The employment contract is the basis of the relationship between the employer and the employee and states the terms and conditions as agreed upon. This cannot be amended without proper consultation with the employee. Therefore, the majority of rules in the workplace is implemented through policies.

What is a policy?

A policy informs employees of the rule/s in respect of a certain topic. The employer puts these rules in place in order to ensure the smooth and efficient running of his/her business operations. Policies are not underwritten by labour legislation, but define the employer’s own rules, which must be reasonable, for the workplace. We strongly advise employers to implement the following policies in the workplace:

Code of conduct

A code of conduct states the employer’s own rules specific to his/her business and industry. These rules should refer to, for example, general rules in the workplace, hygiene, salary advances, safety regulations, use of company property, clothing, etc.

Smoking policy

A smoking policy firstly states whether smoking is allowed and secondly if so, the designated areas and specific times allocated for smoking. In the policy the employer can state the times allocated during the day that employees are allowed to smoke, as well as the duration of these breaks, e.g. 10h00, 12h00 and 14h00 for 10 minutes each.

Sick leave policy

Leave matters are regulated by Labour Legislation and refer to annual, sick, family responsibility and maternity leave. It is a good idea to incorporate this into leave policies, but take care that the policy is not less favourable than the applicable legislation which should be adhered to. The aim of a sick leave policy is to regulate the amount of sick leave employees are legally entitled to, as well as the reasonable requirements set by the employer for sick leave to be approved. This can include timeous notice of intended sick leave to the relevant person (management), when a sick note must be presented and the disclosure of the period that the employee will be unfit for duty. This gives the employer time to make other arrangements to ensure sustainable productivity.

Cell phone policy

A cell phone policy regulates the use of cell phones in the workplace to ensure a safe and productive environment. This policy can limit private as well as company cell phone use.

These policies are often used to pro-actively manage labour risk. Other policies include a sexual harassment policy, an internet and e-mail policy, a hygiene policy, etc. The employer can amend policies when necessary. It is vital to ensure that employees are informed of these policies, as well as any changes made to the policies, preferably in writing.

Policies and procedures are a proactive way to minimise the employer’s risk when it comes to Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) matters. A Commissioner at the CCMA will always enquire:


  • Was there a rule in the workplace?
  • Is there proof that the employee was aware of this rule?
  • Did the employee act according to the rule?
  • Was there progressive warnings (according to the offence)

What is a procedure?

A procedure is an established or official way of handling a situation, put in place to inform the employees and employers alike, of the necessary steps when a certain incident occurs.

We strongly advise employers to implement the following procedures in the workplace:

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Disciplinary Code

The disciplinary code serves as a guideline for employers of what the appropriate sanction is for certain offences. These sanctions may be adjusted depending on the circumstances and merits of each case. Progressive discipline plays a vital role here and should be applied, e.g. in the case of reporting late for duty:

  • First offence: written warning
  • Second offence: serious written warning
  • Third offence: final written warning
  • Fourth offence: dismissal

Keep in mind that the degree of sanction will differ depending on the nature of the employee’s duties. It is very important to note that an employee cannot be dismissed under any circumstances without holding a disciplinary hearing. Offences that are common cause and/or cause disturbance within the workplace do not have to be included in the code of conduct, but are listed on the disciplinary code. These offences may include but is not limited to theft, fraud, offences related to sexual harassment as well as participation in unprotected strike action.

Appeal Procedure

When an employee is unsatisfied with any disciplinary sanction (a warning or dismissal), the appeal procedure informs the employee on what grounds he/she can appeal on within the relevant timeframes and the person responsible for dealing with the appeal. This is an internal procedure to try and resolve matters before they end up in the CCMA.

Grievance Procedures

The aim of the grievance procedure is firstly to create a harmonious working environment by identifying and resolving any dissatisfaction or feelings of injustice from an employee’s side. Secondly, the grievance procedure helps to protect the employer in a case of constructive dismissal. In such a case the Commissioner of the CCMA will always ask whether a grievance procedure was in place. This procedure contains information of how a grievance is dealt with, as well as the different stages in the procedure, should the matter not be resolved during stage one.

How do I implement these policies and procedures?

When a new employee is appointed, policies and procedures are implemented together with his/her employment contract. When employees are already employed, policies and procedures can be implemented in various ways:

  • Have a meeting with all the employees to discuss the policy or procedure. Take note to complete a signed attendance register to prove that employees are aware of the policy or procedure.
  • Circulate the policy or procedure via e-mail or per hand – take note to have proof of receipt.
  • Display the policy or procedure on a communal notice board accessible to all employees, e.g. in a canteen, changing rooms, etc. where employees are sure to see it.

It is important that the employer must be able to prove that the employees are aware of the policy or procedure.

Contact the LWO for any advice or assistance!

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