There are two key considerations in all disciplinary procedures:

(a)   Procedural fairness
(b)   Substantive fairness

Penalties, the term used in the disciplinary procedure, refers to the sanction applied if the staff member is found guilty. Substantive fairness requires that the sanction/penalty is appropriate to the misconduct. For example, to dismiss someone if they have come to work late on the first offence would be substantively unfair but to dismiss someone if they have stolen money would be substantively fair. The sanction to be applied is outlined in the disciplinary procedure, specifically section 3+4 of the document: Penalties . Please note that these are only guidelines, as the document states. There may be mitigating or aggravating circumstances that may lead the HoD/manager to determine a different sanction.

The code indicates that there are the following penalties:

  • Verbal warnings (usually issued for a 1st minor offence)
  • Written warnings (usually issued for a 2nd minor offence or a 1st serious offence)
  • Final written warnings (usually issued for a 3rd minor offence or a 2nd serious offence)
  • Dismissal (usually for a 4th minor offence or a 3rd serious offence or a 1st most serious offence)
  • Summary dismissal (immediate dismissal)
  • Suspension without pay – (as alternative to dismissal)

If a disciplinary process or sanction is found to be either procedurally unfair or substantively unfair, the decision can be overturned or the process halted. The staff representative in these processes such as the union shop-steward are likely (and correctly so) to pick up on such a problem. It is therefore important that managers are well prepared. If you need assistance, please contact your HR Generalist.

Details are available at:

Last Modified: Mon, 29 Jul 2013 10:59:15 SAST