It is not always in the best interest of a MISA member to endure a disciplinary hearing, especially when the employee is already suffering due to emotional trauma.
Anne-Marie Bodenstein, MISA’s labour expert in the Legal Department, had a very difficult situation where she had to negotiate a mutual separation on behalf of a member who made serious mistakes at work because he was struggling to come to terms with his wife’s suicide.
The member was suspended and charged with gross negligence after failing to submit a tender on time.
“During our consultation the member admitted that he went for an inspection with regards to the tender on 25 January 2022. He determined that a new engine was required and that the old engine could not be rebuilt. He requested the company provide him with the vin number to complete the necessary tender, only receiving this on 4 February 2022.
“He did not do any follow-up as was expected of him. On 7 February he finalized the quotations and wanted to submit the tender but discovered that the whole tender process had changed various documentations required before submitting the tender. Whilst busy printing the documentation, the tender process closed,” says Bodenstein.
Fearing that he might lose his job, the member did not inform his employer that he failed to submit the tender, the employer only becoming aware of this on 22 February 2022. The member was already on a final written warning for gross negligence.
According to Bodenstein the member informed her that his wife committed suicide a year and four months prior. He was going through a very tough time, seeking assistance from his church to come to terms with her death and the events leading up to it.
His manager, the initiator of the disciplinary hearing, was with him when he went home and found his wife’s body.
“Upon entering the boardroom where the hearing would have been held, the member could not control his emotions and burst into tears. I then advised the Employer that the member had chosen to resign as he could not afford to be dismissed. Parties then entered into negotiations.
“The parties agreed that the member’s services will be terminated based on an “End of contract”. The Employer will not do anything to jeopardize the member’s opportunities in obtaining alternate employment, allowing him to claim from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) whilst looking for another position.”
According to Bodenstein the member broke down and started shaking uncontrollably after the proceedings. It took an hour for him to compose himself and walk to his vehicle.
“This is one of the cases that will always stay with me. I still contact the member to check on his progress. He is currently concentrating on his emotional healing and that of his fourteen-year-old son.”
If you are struggling with your emotions and depression, remember there is always hope. Phone the helpline of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) on 0800 567 567 or visit www.sadag.org.
Issued on behalf of MISA by Sonja Carstens, Media, Liaison and Communication Specialist.