Nicola Whitear
Lecturer, Attorney and CCMA commissioner

Nicola Whitear

  Lecturer, Attorney and CCMA commissioner

  BA English; BA Psychology; BA Law (LLB); MA Law (LLM)

Topics Covered By Speaker:

  • Communication
  • Empowerment
  • Labour Relations and Law
  • Organisational Culture and Team Building

About Speaker

Lecturer, Attorney and CCMA commissioner

Nicci’s area of specialisation is Labour Law and Labour Dispute Prevention and Resolution. She lectures Labour Law at the Masters level at UKZN, where she has been for over twenty years. Nicci has also lectured in the fields of Human Resources Management and Industrial Relations, to the Honours level. She is a Commissioner at the CCMA (since the inception of the CCMA over 20 years ago), arbitrating and conciliating labour disputes between employers and employees and between employers and trade unions. Nicci provides training in Labour Law and Labour Dispute Resolution to aspirant commissioners, under the auspices of the Institute for Practical Legal Training (IPLT). She is on the roll of practicing attorneys, and is engaged as the Head of the Labour Law Department at an esteemed local law firm, where she provides training in labour law and labour dispute resolution to candidate attorneys, under the auspices of the Practical Legal Training arm of the Law Society. Nicci represents UKZN as one of the organisers of the Annual Labour Law Conference held in Johannesburg – a significant conference in the Labour Law calendar. She publishes articles on Labour Law and Labour Dispute Resolution and Prevention in scholarly journals, as well as in more informal publications on a regular basis.

Speakers Topics

1. Understanding the disciplinary process – from the perspective of both the employee & the employer

This presentation will aim to demystify the disciplinary process and to balance the perspectives of the employee and the employer. The disciplinary process can be frightening; unhelpful myths and misconceptions develop around it. When a balanced perspective on the process is provided, a more positive, mature attitude towards the process can be achieved. Participants will understand how the disciplinary process works, and what the rights and duties are of the various participants in the process.

2. Fairness at work: What is it all about?

This presentation will aim to explore the reciprocal rights and duties which exist between employers and employees. It can sometimes be difficult to understand exactly what the reciprocal rights and duties of the employee and employer are. This presentation will provide clarity. Participants will understand that the employment relationship is a two-way street, founded on trust, and what the reciprocal rights and duties are between the parties to the employment relationship.

3. Social media, the workplace and the Law

Increasingly, employees are being disciplined for their conduct on social media. People are also being held liable in terms of civil law to third parties for defamatory comments posted on social media. This presentation aims to clarify what is acceptable and what is not. The limits of acceptable conduct on social media are coming into focus as a result of CCMA and court decisions. If employees are made aware of the limits, and of the seriousness of the implications of overstepping them, they will be empowered to avoid conflict in this area. Participants will understand the legal limitations on posting information to social media, and the potential consequences of transgressing the limits.

4. The right to privacy in the workplace

This presentation aims to explore the employee’s right to privacy in the workplace (both the physical, and the electronic workspace) and how it must be balanced with the employer’s right to protect its business interests. This is fraught with uncertainty about how the competing rights and interests of employees and employer can best be balanced. This is especially so nowadays where the boundaries between work and home are becoming increasingly blurred. Participants will consider the question of privacy at work in the context of physical space (e.g. desk drawers, filing cabinets) and electronic space (computers – including, for example, password-protected files and private emails). Depending on the needs of the group, CCTV/camera footage and the relevance of the employee’s conduct outside of work hours and off work premises may also be considered.

5. Negotiating and communicating for a ‘win-win’ outcome in tense situations

This presentation aims to provide practical strategies to defuse tension, encourage frank, honest communication and break deadlocks in situations where people struggle to communicate. There are practical tips and tricks that can be used in a variety of situations to facilitate communication and make mutual compromises and an ultimate ‘win-win’ outcome more likely, whether from asking your supervisor for time off to getting your child to agree to do homework, or persuading your partner to watch the movie of your choice! Participants will learn basic skills and strategies for conflict resolution.

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