Author: Pat Pattinson
Far too often it happens in business that a disagreement occurs and due to the lack of paperwork it ends up in a “He said She” situation all the way through arbitration to the court room costing all parties more than what it is worth. What is even more disappointing is that often these disagreement materialise simply due to honest misunderstandings between parties and if it was reduced to writing clarity could have been achieved before grievance.
The simplest and most common example of this is of course when it comes to labour relations and employment contracts. Verbal agreements are only sufficient whilst everything is going well, but as soon as something goes wrong from either party the lack of a proper employment contract and job description can cost the company dearly.
It is frightening how many business owners still employ staff without employment contracts to spite it being a legal requirement, then when a matter ends up in front of the CCMA they find it hard to understand why the commissioner keeps hammering on the absence of an employment contract. If you have perhaps employed a worker to perform certain duties for a certain period of time at certain remuneration, but trusted him to honour this arrangement as you are paying him a little more than required. At the end of this contract period you are made aware by this worker that he now considers himself a permanent employee at this higher rate and that if you insist on letting him go he will go to the CCMA. Guess what, he is now your new employee and there is very little you can do about it. Get everything on paper even after you have confirmed certain point verbally, confirm it on paper or at least an email.
If the other person is not prepared to commit to writing there must be a reason for it and thus a reason for you not too.