An employee is demoted when their employment terms and conditions has been changed in such a way that the employees remuneration, status or responsibility is reduced. Even if the employee retained their salary and benefits, demotion still occurs when the status, importance or responsibility of the employee is reduced.
There are three instances where demotion of an employee can be justified:
- Demotion as an alternative to a dismissal in disciplinary procedures.
- Demotion of an employee outside disciplinary procedure (with written consent of the employee and fair procedure followed).
- Demotion as an alternative to retrenchment.
Demotion in disciplinary procedures can occur if the misconduct of the employee justifies dismissal and that the employment contract makes provision for demotion as a sanction in disciplinary action. The demotion is only valid for a limited period and if the employee refuses the demotion, he/she may be dismissed.
Demotion of an employee outside disciplinary procedures is of a permanent nature. Fair procedure (consultation between employer and employee) and the written consent of the employee are of high importance. Demotion as an alternative to retrenchment can be offered to the employee who would be affected by the retrenchment when conducting the retrenchment process.
Therefore, to avoid an unfair labour practice, a fair reason for demotion and a fair procedure for demoting an employee are essential.
ABOUT THE AUHTOR
The author obtained his Bcomm Law degree in 2009 from the University of the Free State. He was registered as a candidate attorney in 2010 with Vermaak & Dennis Attorneys in Bloemfontein. In 2011, he obtained an LLB degree from the University of the Free State and completed his articles of clerkship in 2012. In April 2012 he was admitted as an Attorney in die Free State High Court, Bloemfontein, where after he practised as an attorney for two and a half years before joining SEESA Labour Bloemfontein as a legal advisor in June 2015.