NAIL THE BAD GUYS: How can labour law help to get rid of corruption in the workplace?
The scourge of corruption
Corruption has reached epidemic proportions in both the private and public sectors. It operates silently like a virus in the systems of businesses and state institutions. It’s faceless, deceitful and cunning. And it’s driven by those most profoundly destructive of human impulses– dishonesty, greed and self-interest. It has no respect or concern for the harm it causes to people or enterprises –its sole purpose is to plunder the fruits of others without being caught. And then when detected – to deny guilt and cover their tracks to avoid blame.
Labour law protection
The LRA deals specifically with the scourge in Section 187. It does not have the jurisdiction to impose fines and prison sentences for employees found guilty of corruption in the workplace – that’s dealt with in criminal law. But it takes the strongest stand it possibly can by protecting whistleblowers against dismissal for reporting corruption. It does so by classifying the dismissal of a whistleblower as an “automatically unfair dismissal”. This prohibits employers from dismissing or taking action against employees who legitimately report evidence of corruption in their companies or organisations.
The LRA goes further. It classifies victimization of whistleblowers as seriously as it treats cases of unfair discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, gender and other arbitrary grounds. And it reserves the maximum penalty on24 months’ pay for employees who prove they’ve been dismissed for disclosing information about corruption.
The policy of the Protected Disclosures Act No 7 of 2014 underlying policy is to impose a responsibility on every employer and employee to disclose criminal and other irregular activities.
- Criminal offences;
- Failure to comply with certain legal obligations;
- Miscarriages of justice.
TIP: Many employers already have clear anti-corruption policies and facilities such as Anonymous Hotlines for employees to report suspicious activities. It’s essential that the facility is trustworthy to protect the identity of whistle-blowers and their rights to protection. Employers who don’t have a hotline facility would be well advised to sign up for one if they’re serious about nailing the bad guys.
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