Something about the festive season creates a ‘buzz’ of excitement. More often than not, it is this ‘buzz’ which makes the festive season that much more memorable.
Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to reckless decisions by employees, which may influence whether they successfully return to work in January.
Michael Yeates, director in the Employment practice at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr (CDH) and Arlina Ramothar, candidate attorney at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr (CDH) explain that this is because even during the festive season employees still carry an employer’s flag - a flag which they are expected to uphold. Below are some of the examples of instances where the employer may be permitted to take disciplinary steps against employees.
Year-end functions or office parties have been regarded as a gateway to the festive season where employees get together in celebration of the year they have left behind. However, there may be instances where misconduct such as rude behaviour occurs during these functions. The Intraspeed SA (Pty) Ltd v T Boyce N.O and Others case is an example of such misconduct. The conduct complained of was that of an employee who asked his wife to send an email to his colleague which read ‘F**k You Thank You’ (sic) in response to a query from his colleague. Although this was meant to be a joke, the employer took disciplinary steps.
Given the decreased number of available employees during the shutdown period, employees may use this opportunity as a bargaining tool when it comes to their salaries. In Seardel Group Trading (Pty) Ltd t/a Romatex Home Textiles v Petersen and Others, the employee was dismissed for failing to obey a lawful instruction in that the employee refused to perform maintenance work during the employer’s annual shutdown period at his normal rate and insisted on a higher rate. The dismissal was held to be fair as the employee was not on leave during the shutdown period.