Employee fired for clocking overtime which had not been worked

A man was axed by Supreme Poultry for clocking overtime he had not worked. Picture: File

A man was axed by Supreme Poultry for clocking overtime he had not worked. Picture: File

Published Oct 19, 2023


Pretoria - Clocking for overtime which has not been worked can have dire consequences, as a quality assurance poultry meat examiner found out.

Seabata Radiboke was axed by Supreme Poultry after working there for 13 years. He was fired for clocking more than 59 hours’ overtime.

This followed a disciplinary hearing after he had claimed 59 hours’ overtime which he did not work in June 2019. There were also other charges levelled against him, where it was claimed that on some other dates he claimed overtime for more than the time he had actually worked.

In one case he had claimed eight hours overtime, while he only worked for three hours.

He challenged his dismissal but an arbitrator found that Radiboke had indeed broken the rule with regards to dishonesty.

The arbitrator held that traditionally dishonesty in the workplace has been seen as an offence so serious as to warrant dismissal because it could render the employment relationship intolerable.

However, the arbitrator decided that Radiboke’s dismissal was procedurally and substantively unfair. She found that that Supreme Poultry had been inconsistent in dismissing Radiboke because the heads of department and the shift manager who had requested and approved the overtime hours were “spared”.

Even though Radiboke could not account for the 59 hours overtime i, those hours were approved by managers. The arbitrator ordered that he had to be reinstated.

The poultry watchdog meanwhile turned to the Labour Court in Cape Town and asked that the arbitration should be reviewed, set aside and replaced with an order that Radiboke’s dismissal was indeed substantively and procedurally fair.

It was argued that in finding that Radiboke’s conduct did not amount to gross dishonesty, the arbitrator ignored that he had claimed for overtime while not working on several occasions.

While the arbitrator only considered the 59 hours not worked, the company argued that Radiboke had committed the same misconduct on numerous occasions.

According to the company, all staff who had claimed for inflated overtime hours were dismissed, and the heads of department who signed-off the overtime were disciplined by being issued with final written warnings valid for 12 months.

Radiboke argued that he could not have been found guilty of dishonesty because his superiors authorised and approved all his overtime claims by signing them off. Moreover, he said, he did not claim for any overtime he did not work.

According to him, as required, he had simply recorded the overtime hours he worked which his superiors had confirmed. Radiboke said his employer never proved that he did not work the overtime in question.

Judge Robert Lagrange said he accepted that the charge sheet did not convey all the specific occasions on which Radiboke was alleged to have claimed for unauthorised overtime.

But the findings in relation to the excess overtime claimed for June 2019 (59 hours) alone warrant grounds for finding the dismissal substantively fair.

Pretoria News