How is it possible for just one employee to cause a loss of well over R2m to a company, I wondered, reading a recent decision from the labour court. But when I saw the employee was a quantity surveyor who did not complete and submit monthly cost reports on a shopping mall project, the figures started to make sense. In August 2015 the quantity surveyor in question, Thabang Madonsela, was fired by Belo & Kies Construction for causing a significant loss to the company through ignoring a "reasonable instruction": to complete and submit monthly cost reports. When he referred an unfair dismissal dispute to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation & Arbitration (CCMA), the arbitrator found the firm’s dismissal procedure to be procedurally and substantively unfair, and ordered it to pay him R117,000 in compensation. Still smarting at its loss on the mall project, Belo & Kies asked the labour court for its view on the CCMA decision. The court then went through the evidence that was provide...

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