The disciplinary process in South Africa is a manual, time-consuming nightmare

By Michael Fisher, Co-Founder and CEO, erNavigator

Johannesburg, 29 May 2020
Read time 6min 00sec

Without digitisation, moving from a paper-based labour relations approach to best practice is just about impossible. You need to have all the knowledge, documents and processes at your fingertips, irrespective of your level of understanding and experience of labour relations.

The management of South African labour and employee relations has its challenges. As a country ranked worst in labour and employee relations in the world (according to the World Economic Forum’s World Competitiveness Report from 2018), it’s clear South Africa could use a little help.

The larger an organisation becomes, the more locations need managing, resulting in many managers conducting many processes with their many staff members on a regular basis.

Labour and employee relations departments find it difficult to ensure managers maintain fair decision-making, alongside a consistency of actions taken, adequate documentation and ensuring the correct process actions are initiated. This is especially important when considering South African best-practice standards.

This leaves an organisation at risk of countless errors, legal issues and cost that can altogether be avoided using cloud software that digitally transforms and automates labour relations processes.


Whether you’re a medium-sized operation or your company is operating at a global level, there is a high likelihood that it’s characterised by a lot of manual disciplinary processes.

Your current system may be completely manual or involve what we call post-fact record-keeping, which you utilise to record a warning after the fact. You may go onto your payroll system to record the warning and state the date and time of issue. You may even go through a system like Excel, which is where you will manually compile a report after the fact to show you how many employees were issued a warning within a certain period and how many were fired.

At your level it begs the question, wouldn’t you rather enlist a digital tool that can run the process in real-time, compliant with best practice standards and report on it in real-time at the touch of a button? Far better than just recording the outcome of the case.

Reducing risk

The manual processing of labour relations is a risky, inconsistent process that provides little actionable, real-time data or value to the business. At an enterprise level, think of the financial costs and reputational risks associated with manual processes and the use of outdated, post-fact record-keeping systems.

In 2003, we developed a solution to specifically address the challenges that companies face to rely on manual, inefficient and ineffective labour and employee relations processes.

We aimed to guarantee consistency and fairness in all cases, which ensures fair and equitable treatment of all employees.

It’s a turnkey solution that not only improves process efficiencies, but reduces cost and risk, and enables companies to be legally and policy compliant at all times.


Part of the risk involved in manual processing is poor understanding of the legal landscape in South Africa with regards to employee and labour relations. There’s simply too much information in the market.

For a manager to search labour relations, they’ll find 5 000+ portals that offer everything from forms to knowledge and laws, but how does this help anyone if they don’t know what they’re searching for or where to start looking?

The pressure is especially nerve-racking when you consider the level of complex issues they’re required to overcome.

The principle of our system is that we’ve got the knowledge, and it’s delivered to you when you’re on a case, so you don’t have to look for anything and it helps you make decisions that avoid tricky issues while preparing the paperwork. This empowers the individual and the organisation, while putting you at ease that the correct processes are being followed.

Beyond offering the knowledge base, we enable your manager the ability to buy in-case services. They may require to bring in an independent chairperson for a disciplinary hearing, or order an investigator or simply watch a short course to help find the answer they need. All of this is easily ordered online.


If you don’t have access to a sophisticated IR department, you’re going to need a tool to assist you to run the process, irrespective of the level of experience or knowledge. Automation through digitisation means you can basically be an expert and trust that the case is legally compliant, and most of all, that it follows South Africa’s best practice standards.

Imagine a system that helps you book the meeting, print the necessary forms for the meeting and offer guidance in what to say and help in understanding the policies.

As you process the case, the system delivers clear instructions, information, pre-populated forms and guidance.

We knew a real-time, Web-based process software solution was key to providing powerful user-friendly tools and analytics to automate, standardise and proactively manage your labour and employee relations cases.

Monitoring and reporting

Accessed securely on the cloud through your Web browser, the erNavigator provides everything about your businesses’ labour relations in your profile. You’ll immediately have a view of the common issues that need addressing. Since it’s all done step-by-step to complete required tasks online and on time, it sets you up for success.

This system has revolutionised the way our clients have carried out their labour and employee relations and how they report these activities through online records of case evidence and real-time information. The software keeps not only South African, but global countries, legislative and business best-practices in mind and updates automatically. This is how we came to be endorsed by SABPP (South African Board of People Practices) and our South African legal content provided and updated by Bowmans.

The right tool in the hands of line managers and system users provides the organisation with opportunities and leverage to achieve its business goals. The erNavigator provides a full one-stop solution by reducing business risk and providing line managers and system users with the confidence and support to successfully achieve all their labour and employee relations objectives, while maintaining best practice standards.

Cloud software that digitally transforms and automates labour relations processes to best practice standards.

erNavigator helps you digitise, automate and empower:

  • We combine specialist knowledge with cloud technologies.
  • Deliver critical system capabilities, quickly and easily.
  • Empower through the governance and management of labour and employee relations.

Let’s get in touch and I’ll set you up with an online demo to see the value we offer first-hand.

We’re here to help.

Editorial contacts
Gary Slom +27 11 656 4950