Thursday, 20 July 2017

Don’t get caught when SARS or the Department of Labour chooses your company for an audit.

You might think that if you pay your taxes and SARS has never queried anything with you before, then you're safe from an audit but SARS also does random and cyclical audits.

Having up to date policies as supporting documents to assist with SARS audit questionnaires and to protect your business from being dragged to the CCMA is to have the relevant policy in place.

Clear and concise HR policies are important so that employees are able to understand the rules and regulations within the organisation.

Failing to implement policies leaves an organisation open to legal challenges and grievances from the employees, especially if the company inconsistently applies the HR policies to various employees. This can lead to increased costs that affect your profits due to time wasted on not following the procedures. 

Most businesses forget that if they don’t have a policy in place to handle situations, common practice becomes the defining policy, regardless of the details.

Finding Shapes in association with Norman Brett and Associates can now assist your company to compile a proper contract of employment - and placing into that contract, all the necessary requirements and policies to bind the employee. It is even becoming more necessary now to embody company policies and procedures into the contract - not all of them, perhaps, but certainly the more important ones.

For more information please contact us!

Monday, 24 April 2017

Reasonable expectation of a permanent position

As a point of departure there can be referred to the case of Dierks v University of South Africa which specifically dealt with section 186(1)(b) of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) which deals with the reasonable expectation of an employee and more specifically, whether it entitles an employee to secure a permanent position. A person who is employed on a fixed term contract generally has two expectations to take into account, being that the contract will be renewed or that he/she will secure permanent employment.

When considering the wording of section 186(1)(b) it becomes evident that it only applies to one of the above mentioned expectations, being the first mentioned. Very importantly the court in the Dierks case held that having a fixed term contract renewed a couple of times, does not automatically have the consequence of being appointed permanently, nor does it create that expectation.

The above decision was placed into dispute in a further case of McInnes v Technikon Natal, where the exact opposite was held. The latter case focussed on the nature of the expectation and whether it was reasonable to expect permanent employment and if so, that dismissal would be unfair on that basis. The position was placed into more uncertainty after the Auf der Heyde v University of Cape Town case decided that the approach initially followed in Dierks was correct and thus that section 186(1)(b) does not include a reasonable expectation of permanent employment. And would thus not result in an unfair dismissal.

The question thus arises as to what is the current position after all the uncertainty created above.

There is unfortunately, as yet, not concise answer, as it can still be argued that there is no reason why a reasonable expectation of a permanent employment should not be covered by section 186(1)(b) which is based on the fact that the purpose of the provision is to prevent employers from keeping employees on fixed term contracts.
The fact of the matter is that as a minimum, an employee’s expectation of renewal of his/her contract will be protected as is further cemented in the case of SA Rugby v CCMA, but whether such an expectation of permanent employment falls under the specific section remains arguable.


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

HR Basics for Small Business

HR Basics for Small Business


HR is a minefield of laws, regulations and requirements. For most small businesses (fewer than 50 employees) there are basic requirements for a sensible, practical HR program.

These basic requirements are:
  • Creation and maintenance of employee files
  • Publication of an employee handbook with certain policies

Without question, there is a lot more to HR than the items listed above. But with regard to compliance with HR rules and regulations, this is where owners of a small business need to start.

Employee Files

Employee File

You should create and maintain a separate file for each of your employees. This file is where you keep all of the information you collect on employees, such as:

  • Resumes and employment applications
  • Offer letters, employment agreements or contracts
  • Payroll information
  • Basic employment data including
  • Information about participation in benefit programs
  • Awards, recognition or disciplinary documents
  • Performance evaluations
  • Termination documentation and exit interview information

It's best to assume all this information is confidential, so keep these files in a secure location. Only people with a compelling business reason should have access to these files.

Employee Handbook with Company Policies

An employee handbook is the centerpiece of an effective HR program. The employee handbook explains your company's policies and procedures, and communicates your expectations to employees. A good handbook also helps to protect your company in the event of a dispute.

As with many issues surrounding HR, the policies you include in your handbook can be comprehensive to the point of being ridiculous. For most small companies, an employee handbook with the following policies makes sense:

Employment in General

  • Introductory Statement – Purpose of the Handbook
  • Employment Equity Policy
  • New Hire Policy
  • Policy Against Harassment and Discrimination
  • Open Door Policy
  • Confidential Information
  • Computer Use Policy
  • Social Media Policy
  • Employment Categories
  • Work Hours
  • Alcohol and Drug Policy
  • Personal Appearance Policy
  • Return of Property
  • Solicitation Policy

Timekeeping and Payroll

  • Timekeeping Procedures
  • Paydays
  • Pay Deductions

Work Conditions

  • Violence in the Workplace
  • Workplace Safety
  • Drug Free Workplace Policy
  • Grievance Policy
  • Employee Conduct and Disciplinary Action


  • Sick Leave
  • Personal Leave
  • Holidays
  • Bereavement Leave
  • Maternity/Paternity Leave
  • Insurance
  • Workman's Compensation Insurance
  • Business Expense Reimbursement

IMPORTANT NOTE: Creating your employee handbook is a crucial first step. But it's also critical that your employees read the handbook and agree to your policies as a condition of their employment. The best practice is to ask employees to acknowledge their acceptance and to store that acknowledgement in case it's needed in the future.

Creating an employee handbook with the all the necessary policies seems like a daunting task. But Finding Shapes in association with Norman Brett & Associates will help you get it done. | 0823892264
Article by Jack Hayhow

Monday, 6 March 2017

Wellness Retreat 27 - 30 April 2017!


Wellness Retreat 27 – 30 April 2017

Join us for a 3 night, 2 day retreat at a Game Farm to rejuvenate all your senses, replenish your spirit and achieve deep inner peace and harmony.
R5000.00 - 3 Nights / 2 Days
(Early Bird Discount - Book & pay before 1 April 2017 and pay only R4800.00!)
Only 10 places available!
Included: Body Talk session; 1-1 Self Reflection Session; Meditation sessions, Group Work; Guided Nature Walks; Personal Time; All Meals; Accommodation and Travel.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Benefits of Hiring a Life Coach

If you have not used a life coach, you may have some questions about how it works and what benefits you can expect. What follows is an overview of the benefits of life coaching.

Life Coaching is an ongoing professional relationship that can help you to produce extraordinary results in your life, career and / or businesses. Life Coaching is not counselling or therapy; it is forward looking and is about achieving positive results in your life. Your coach will show you techniques and simple strategies for helping you to close the gap between where you are now and what you want to achieve.

There are many benefits it be had from engaging in life coaching:


Knowing what you want can be half the battle in life. As part of your pre-coaching work, your coach will help you to get clear about what you would like to achieve from coaching (if you are not already). On an on-going basis, coaching will help you to get and stay clear about your goals and the direction you would like to head in.


Accountability is a powerful tool for creating change. When engaged in the life coaching process, you will work with your coach to create goals to achieve between sessions. Coaching is very much a joint journey and as your life coach, the coach don’t give you advice or tell you what to do; together we will create goals for you that will be realistic and achievable and importantly, inspiring to you. The goals should be your goals and owned by you. If for some reason you are not able to achieve that goal, you will work with your coach in the next session to see what stopped you and help you to move forward again. The simple act of telling someone else what you intend to do can make a huge difference in the desire to achieve it. If you find that you are putting something off week after week, it is much more obvious in the coaching scenario and gets dealt with quicker than you may do by yourself. This means that you can either get to the bottom of why you have not achieved the goal or decide to leave it to one side if you realise it no longer inspires you.

Unbiased Input

Friends and family can be a great source of support, but sometimes unbiased input can make a big difference to your perspective and help you to see things about yourself and your life situation differently. We often hear things better from an outsider, than from people to close to the situation or us. Though your Mum may always remind you of your strengths, hearing the same message from someone outside of your situation can be helpful.

The Opportunity to Focus on You

Life coaching is an opportunity to focus on you and your dreams and aspirations. In day to day life, being busy with family, friends, work and hobbies often means that you and your bigger wants get left to the side. Life coaching gives you the space to think about you, your thoughts and feelings and about what is important to you. Life coaching can be truly life changing and can enable you to carve the space in your life for your goals and what is important to you.

Personal Development

Life coaching can be challenging and hard work, though also rewarding and fun. You will be looking at yourself honestly and challenging yourself to push yourself beyond your comfort zones. Life coaching will enhance your personal development and assist you in taking the various areas of your life to the next level.

Have further questions about life coaching? Please feel free to leave a question in the comments section or contact me.
Adapted from a blog by Jen Smith, a Life Coach and Writer

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Employee Probation

An employee on probation is a newly hired employee on a conditional employment contract.

This is to evaluate the employee’s work performance during the probationary period to ascertain if he/she is able to perform the work at the required standard, before confirming the appointment.

Probation is dealt with in terms of the Code of Good Practice – Dismissal, Schedule 8 to the Labour Relations Act.

Important to note:

•Probation as regulated in terms of the LRA only applies to newly hired employees – not employees who are promoted on a trial basis.
•Probation is not compulsory – the employer can decide if it is necessary when appointing an employee.
•Statutory probation and the applicable requirements, period, etc. must be agreed upon up front in the contract of employment.
•There is no prescribed probation period – the only requirement is that it must be “reasonable” and it depends on the nature of the job.

•The probationary status of an employee is only applicable to issues of work performance (competence) – it has no relevance to misconduct perpetrated by the employee during probation, nor can it be an easy way out for the employer on the basis of an arbitrary issue concerning the employee. All issues other than work performance (competence) must be dealt with in the same way as with any permanent employee. A probationary employee is still entitled to protection by labour law.

Probation also does however also not mean that the employer can fire the probationer “at will” if it is not satisfied with his/her performance. There is a process to follow and legal requirements to be met. The dismissal must be substantively and procedurally fair.

The South African Labour Guide

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The Top Five HR Trends For 2017

 The Top Five HR Trends For 2017 

HR leaders are sizing up a handful of challenges that they weren't yet facing in the early days of 2016. Over the next 12 months the solutions to those obstacles will have to evolve and adapt as the overall business world does the same. Still, it's worth taking a look back at what's changed in the past year in order to see what's in store for human resources professionals in 2017. These are five of the biggest trends impacting the field right now.

1.       Millennials Are No Longer the Newbies

2.       Culture and Ethics Get A Much-Needed Refresh

3.       Some Have Second Thoughts About Ditching Annual Performance Reviews

4.       Pay and Performance Decouple

5.       Teams Evolve To Accommodate Contingent Workers

1. Millennials Are No Longer the Newbies

All the fuss and bother over the past few years about integrating millennials into the workplace is officially outdated. It’s now time to welcome in the next generation. In 2017, the oldest members of generation Z will be turning 21–23 (there's some debate as to whether the new generation begins in 1994 or 1996). In the meantime, those on the older end of the millennial spectrum are already in their mid-30s. Many have been in the workforce for over a decade, having served as managers, VPs, start-up founders, and CEOs for quite some time.

Gen Zers . . . are now just starting to enter the workforce as interns and even entry-level employees.

Gen Zers, on the other hand, are now just starting to enter the workforce as interns and even entry-level employees. This will present new challenges for HR leaders looking to figure out how (and even whether) this new generation brings something fundamentally different to the workplace, and what it may take to prepare millennials to lead them.

2. Culture and Ethics Get a Much-Needed Refresh

A string of ugly scandals in recent years has hit companies like  Wells Fargo, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, Toshiba, and others. What they have in common is that all have been attributed, in one way or another, to a toxic work culture where unethical business practices were encouraged. In most cases, impossibly high standards set by executives and upper management led employees to cut corners (or worse) to reach them.

A combined Columbia and Duke University study found that an emphasis on figures over people can encourage unethical behaviour—a finding that should surprise no one. As Shiva Rajgopal of Columbia University explained:  "Our research provides systematic evidence—perhaps for the first time—that effective cultures are less likely to be associated with "short-termism," unethical behaviour, or earnings management to pad quarterly earnings."

Not every company that vowed to kill annual reviews has seen the results that switch were supposed to provide.

It may be discouraging that it takes a spate of scandals and scientific research to come to that conclusion, but it's probably a good lesson for companies to reckon with in 2017 all the same. HR leaders and executives have been talking more regularly about culture in recent years, so some shifts in the right direction may already be underway.

But what's also clear is that creating an ethical work culture requires companywide input—it can't just come from the top. This year, businesses that care about that may look to their HR teams to find ways to have those conversations with all of their employees more meaningfully and more often.

3. Some Have Second Thoughts about Ditching Annual Performance Reviews

In 2015 and 2016, a number of big-name companies—including Deloitte, Adobe, Accenture, GE, and more recently SAP—announced plans to leave behind the annual performance review. This led many others to follow suit, making the last few years all about breaking with the old.

We're now roughly a year into that movement, and it seems to have slowed. Not every company that vowed to kill annual reviews has seen the results that switch were supposed to provide. In fact, some have actually found that employees' performance and engagement dropped as a result.

Getting rid of outdated systems isn't always enough, it turns out. Companies are also realizing they need to design a strong alternative in order to make the transition successful. This understanding means we'll likely be seeing HR leaders spend more time on data collection and change management in 2017. These days, performance management is an information game.

4. Pay and Performance Decouple

One knotty question these same companies have run into is what to do about pay. Should firms that swap a traditional annual review for continuous and/or peer-based performance evaluations keep making compensation decisions the way they used to? And for those that have reformed (or trashed) their employee ranking systems, how do you then calculate pay fairly and competitively?

Traditional job descriptions are going out the window.

As 2017 gets underway, some HR professionals are coming around to the idea that linking performance management to compensation can actually undermine the intended purpose of ditching the annual review—to create a more learning-based approach with increased feedback conversations. The solutions are still evolving, but there are already some ideas being tossed around about how to separate pay from performance and get the desired results.

5. Teams Evolve To Accommodate Contingent Workers

A study by Fieldglass revealed that in 2015 the average company's workforce consisted of 54% traditional, full-time employees, 20% contingent workers (freelancers, interns, and contractors), and 26% that existed in a grey area somewhere between the two (including remote and part-time workers). The researchers predicted that by 2017, the share of "non-traditional" workers would grow to 25% contingent, 34% grey area, and 41% traditional workers.

The impact on job titles and responsibilities, how teams work together, and much more is already proving enormous. With over half of the workforce working in non-traditional positions, HR managers have their work cut out for them. They'll need to focus more on developing innovative ways to engage and integrate this new workforce into their organizations' cultures.

What Employees Should Be Worried About This Year

In a survey last year, businesses told Deloitte researchers that the top issue they faced was in redesigning their organizations to fit this new reality, with 80% saying they were currently restructuring or had recently completed the process. One trend we're already seeing, as a result, is the spread of cross-functional, ad hoc, and steering teams—which in many cases replace or supplement the work of a traditional, full-time team of people all working onsite together in the same department.

Similarly, traditional job descriptions are going out the window. These new types of teams are utilizing the full skill-set of each employee, rather than limiting them to a narrow range of tasks and skills demanded by a conventional department. This means that an employee with a passion for PR and a talent for graphic design may be able to do both as a project's needs evolve. Some call it the rise of "comprehensivism."

For HR leaders, performance management will need to become more fluid as a result. Whether or not a given employee has one manager, several, or none at all, they still need to get feedback—including, increasingly, from their peers—in order to keep learning and improving. To do that, they'll also need to feel free to ask for it from whomever (and whenever) they want. The shift toward self-steering learning and development is already underway, and it's up to forward-thinking HR professionals to smooth the way for it.


 Steffen Maier is the cofounder of Impraise, an innovative solution that helps companies replace the annual performance appraisal with actionable, continuous feedback.