Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Losing Faith in the System

I own a relatively successful guest house on the Garden Route. I recently discovered that the two domestic workers I have employed for the past 5 - 6 years have systematically been stealing from me for the past 18 months. I am so shocked I had to write and ask. Am I the only naпve employer?

Sticking to the rules

As an employer I have stuck by the rules and issued proper contracts, offered above average rates, sick leave, maternity leave, annual leave and always ensured that my staff are well dressed, well fed and I have often taken care of their medical expenses, paid for them to attend self improvement courses in I.T, first aid, driving and housekeeping. At Christmas they enjoy a gift sack, goodies for their children and a large bonus. During the lean times we have experienced in tourism lately I have kept them employed to the detriment of my own family.

So tell me, what did I do wrong?

Ladies of good standing?

Both of the ladies have matriculated and claim to be good Christians attending church regularly. Last year the younger absconded from work claiming her son broke his leg when actually his leg was only broken in the taxi drive to her home in the Eastern Cape as she absconded. I took her back as I believed her then. The second has just absconded knowing we have a full season ahead of us and is also claiming her son has broken his leg forgetting she told my husband that it was her mothers 80th birthday bash this week. Neither filed leave forms or even told us they were going or when they'd return.

The fake

Two weeks ago, wondering where all the toilet rolls and dry goods were vanishing to I hired a 'fake' domestic to assist in the guest house. What has been reported to me has totally stunned me. Apparently after I have left in the mornings they cook up large breakfasts for themselves but exclude the new staff members, they chat on my phone for hours, they don't change the beds fully, just the top sheets and at the end of the day they 'load up' plastic shopping bags and go home.

The 'fake' domestic also reported back that they have openly discussed that they are hoping I will fire them so that they can approach the Black Sash to then sue me for compensation.

I have trusted them implicitly in my home and now look back in horror at my own stupidity.

Who is it that is penalised?

I have discussed the situation with CCMA and basically unless they are 'caught in the act' there is little I can do. Even then I would have to sit through a process of arbitration and conciliation with the CCMA accounting for my every move that led to this state of affairs. I may not dismiss them. The CCMA are quite clear that unless they receive three written warnings for the same offence within a 6 month period I cannot ask them to leave, not even for theft!

I am horrified that the employer is so penalised for the kindness of offering work in our country and I hope that this 'oversight' (for I cannot believe it is anything else) will be corrected.

Basically, my staff can steal from me, abuse my kindness and integrity and still I must be accountable and retain their services. I don't think so.

Not tolerating victimisation

I believe many will join me in saying I'd rather close my business than be so victimised. It has certainly made me reconsider my employment policies.


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