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What is summary dismissal?

summary dismissalEmployers and employees alike are sometimes confused with the term ‘summary dismissal’.

What is it and how does it work?

A summary dismissal is a dismissal based on the capacity or the conduct of the employee.

When an employee is dismissed ‘summarily’, he is dismissed without notice. The dismissal takes place immediately following a disciplinary enquiry.

What makes this dismissal different from other dismissals is that the employee is not entitled to notice as agreed in his contract of employment or, as set out in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 (BCEA). In addition, the employee is not entitled to payment in lieu of notice.

By dismissing an employee summarily, the employer effectively declares that it is no longer bound to the contract of employment from that moment onwards. This stops the employee from continuing to work in terms of the contract of employment from the moment of termination.

When does summary dismissal occur?

Summary dismissal usually happens when an employee commits a serious act of misconduct. This includes wilful damage to property, physical assault, gross dishonesty, fraud etc.

For example, an employee is summarily dismissed for theft and fraud following a disciplinary enquiry and his employment is terminated immediately. He does not work his notice period or receive payment in lieu of notice.