AN EMPLOYER’S GUIDE TO DISCIPLINARY HEARINGS IN TANZANIA

Published by Paulina Nkini

Handling disciplinary issues of employees in Tanzania is a sensitive and emotive task that involves interactions between both employers and employees and if not properly handled may cause great grievances including misunderstandings, labour disputes in courts of law and destruction of relationships. Employers must be very cautious and attentive to details in effecting disciplinary procedures to their employees in consideration of the employees’ rights, and the laws governing disciplinary processes.

Once an employee commits a misconduct or misdeed, the employer must follow all related disciplinary processes including conducting a disciplinary hearing to ascertain the extent of the misconduct.

To proceed with such a hearing the following guidelines must be considered.

  1. Formation of the disciplinary Committee, the employer must form a disciplinary committee and the committee should be formed of the following persons:
  • Chairperson (person recognized as a senior manager of the company, the officer must be senior to the person undergoing disciplinary processes)
  • The Employee who is accused of committing a misconduct
  • Persons acting as Secretary, Prosecutor, Witnesses and Members. These other persons may be selected among the members of the company
  1. Introduction of the committee members.
  • Chairperson to introduce him/herself
  • Chairperson to give opportunity for members to introduce themselves.
  1. Reading of the Show Cause Letter and the employee’s rights

The chairperson must explain the reason for the hearing and make sure the employee understands his/her rights during the hearing including;

  • The employee is entitled to be assisted in the hearing by a fellow employee.
  • The employee is entitled to have an interpreter. Should they require one, they should notify the management 48 hours prior to the Hearing date.
  • The employee is entitled to question the Complainant and any witnesses.
  • The employee is entitled to furnish evidence and argue against the allegations.
  • The employee is entitled to appeal in writing against the decision of the hearing within Five (5) days of receiving the decision.

NOTE: The chairperson must Ensure the employee has understood his/her rights and that he/she shall be considered to have wavered any of his/her rights if he/she did not comply with them

  1. Commencement of the Hearing.

At the commencement of the hearing, the employer shall

  1. Ask the accused employee if they need a representative
  2. Ask the accused employee if they need an interpreter.

The Chairperson must ask if so, far before the commencement the accused has any question.

  1. Statement of Allegations by the management representative (prosecutor)

The chairperson shall then welcome the prosecutor to state the allegations against the employee, together with evidence/ or invite a witness after the prosecutor is done to provide their testimony. The Complainant should read out the allegation as stated on the show cause letter and give a summary of events.

(After the prosecutor is done) the Chairperson is to invite the accused to ask questions if has any, to the prosecutor.

(After the respondent is done challenging the complainant/prosecutor) The chairperson should give room for the complainant to present a witness if has any.

  1. Statement Of Employee’s Defense

After the said witness has been presented. Hence the Chairperson should now give the opportunity for the respondent to defend his/her case by explaining his/her side of the story together with the evidence.

  1. Mitigation & aggravating factors

The employee shall be granted a chance to provide mitigating and aggravating factors if any.

  1. Adjournment of the meeting.

The hearing shall be adjourned for another day for determination of the employee’s case.

Once the meeting is adjourned, the chairperson shall have a chance to analyze all factors present and make a decision on whether the employee is guilty of the allegation or not. The outcome should be provided to the employee not later than five working days from the date of the hearing.

Employers should follow all due procedures while conducting disciplinary hearings as any slip in the process of conducting the same may be considered to be unfair termination or failure to consider the employees rights in the workplace therefore it is essential to ensure that you consult a qualified labor lawyer to assist you and guide you through the process to ensure that both the employer and employee’s rights are guarded under the law.