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If it is not on paper… it never happened

26 January 2021 Author :   Pat Pattinson

Far too often it happens in business that a disagreement occurs and due to the lack of paperwork it ends up in a “he-said-she said” situation all the way through arbitration to the court room costing all parties more than what it is worth. What is even more disappointing is that often these disagreements materialise simply due to honest misunderstandings between parties and if it were reduced to writing, the need to disagree could have been avoided in the first place.

The simplest and most common example of this is of course when it comes to labour relations and employment contracts. Verbal agreements are only sufficient whilst everything is going well, but as soon as something between either party goes south, the lack of a proper employment contract and job description can cost the company dearly.

It is frightening how many business owners still employ staff without employment contracts in spite of it being a legal requirement, when a matter then ends up in front of the CCMA they find it hard to understand why the Commissioner keeps hammering on the absence of an employment contract.

Another example of a mistake a lot of employers make, is paying a temporary employee more than is stipulated in their contract. Even if you think you are being generous by rewarding their hard work, you could in mean time be digging your own grave. What if this employee, at the end of their contract period insists that he now considers himself a permanent employee at this higher rate and that if you demand on letting him go he will go to the CCMA. . Guess what, he is now your new employee and there is very little you can do about it. Solution: get everything on paper even after you have confirmed certain points verbally, verify it on paper or at least in an email, and make sure your employee is aware that it is officially on record.

 

Pat Pattinson
TMA-SA
Chief Operating Officer

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