The Litigo // November Newsletter 2017

A CALL TO FATHERS


Melcom Oosthuizen

According to the recent STATS SA “Survey of Activities of Young People” dated 16 March 2017, the percentages relating to the presence of parents in the household is quite alarming. According to the study, the figures are as follows:

  • 34,5% of households are headed by both parents;
  • 36,7% of households are headed by only the mother;
  • 3,5% of households are headed by only the father;
  • 18% of households are headed by neither parents despite both parents being alive;
  • 7, 3% have no parents.

Naturally the statistics do not explain the finer details for the divided households. Many factors can contribute to the results including, but not limited to divorces, unmarried couples in serious and/or casual relationships. However, it is clear that only 38% of households have an active and participating father as opposed to 71.2 % of households wherein a mother is active in the household.

South African law has developed drastically over the years, specifically pertaining to rights of fathers. With the recent introduction of the Children’s Act, Act 38 of 2005, South Africa cemented themselves as forerunners of children’s rights and the rights of fathers (both married and unmarried). This has been proven time and time again in our courts with the courts confirming the importance of a child’s relationship with his / her father.

I implore fathers, in the best interest of their current and/or future children, to remain active and ensure that they provide a sound legacy for years to come for their children.

Contact our offices for your consultation with our team to assist you in ensuring that you maintain a strong and healthy relationship with your children.

CAUGHT IN THE CROSSHAIRS OF SELF – EXPRESSION AND COMPANY POLICY


Candice Grace

It’s that time of the year again. Men will roam the streets, beaming with pride as they display and compare their creatively sculpted moustaches. That’s right, Movember is upon us! Although Movember is a fun way to bring awareness to the serious issue of prostate cancer, will it cost you your job?

Depending on the industry you work in, there may not be such stringent policies when it comes to the subject of facial hair. However, most professional companies require a compulsory dress code, specifically for men to remain presentable and neatly shaven. Below are some tips for those of you who want to participate in Movember or simply just want to grow facial hair all-year round, but still want to stay out of the hot water with HR.

Discuss your idea with the relevant person at your company

Most issues that arise between employees and their respective managers/employers are as a result of non – disclosure. Sure, it will not be advisable to report every single matter to your superior as people are too busy to discuss trivial issues. Yet, when it comes to matters that may have an impact on your work status or the image of the company, it is better to be forthcoming. Explain your reason for wanting to do something. If your superior is aware that you want to grow a moustache in support for a good cause, he or she may even implement a temporary policy to allow for all employees to join the movement. Remember that employers, employees and stakeholders aim to maintain a high level of Corporate Social Responsibility.

Keep it neat and constant

There is no reason to be disciplined by your superior for growing facial hair if you keep it neat and tidy. If this is your first time experimenting with a moustache and after a few months you realise that the fluff on your upper-lip makes you look more like a pre-pubescent teen than Tom Selleck, then it might be time to take out the razor. The same goes for men who are genetically gifted at growing facial hair.

Right to freedom of belief and expression versus company policy

You have the right to freedom of belief[1] and expression,[2] but does this freedom allow you to go against company policy if your facial hair is unpresentable?

In a previous case, Dlamini and Others v Green Four Security,[3] two men had been dismissed from employment on the basis that it was against their religious belief to trim their beards. The employees had to prove to the court that trimming their beards was a violation to the central tenet of their faith whereas, on the other hand, the court had to consider whether keeping a neatly, trimmed beard was an inherent requirement of the job. The court maintained that in the required services of the employees, neatness was a basis for regulating beards. Furthermore, this rule was applied to every employee, irrespective of their religion. The dismissed employees could not prove that trimming their beards was against the central essence of their faith. Therefore, the court found in favour of the employers and established that a dress code could be compulsory for promoting a brand or image for a specific job.[4]

Always make yourself aware of company policy before going ahead with any decision that may contravene it.

Changing your (the employer’s) view of facial hair

There is a bias view that men who are cleanly shaven are deemed to be more professional. This trend has been indoctrinated into the working world but is it actually true? Josh Camson deems this perception as a misconception. In his article, “The Gentleman Lawyer’s Guide to Facial Hair”[5], he mentions that the prehistoric view of beards and moustaches was actually a symbol of masculinity and loyalty. Furthermore, a man with facial hair can be very intimidating to his fellow, shaven colleagues. He explains that since the practice of law is 90% a mental challenge, what better way to get into your opponent’s head other than by exuding a confident presence.

Conclusion

The final question – to beard or not to beard? Facial hair can be beneficial. It can provide a person with a signature look and establish your standing in the industry. In cases where younger men work in a competitive industry, facial hair can make you seem older and more mature.[6] Just remember that beards and moustaches should be grown in individual cases – not everyone suits facial hair and vice versa. It is up to you to know your capabilities and limitations.

[1] Section 15 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 108 of 1996.

[2] Section 16(1)(c) of the Constitution of South Africa 1994.

[3] 11 BLLR 1074 (LC).

[4] Barbara Cole “Men Pay a Heavy Price for Beliefs” 5 march 2007.

[5] 4 November 2016.

[6] Josh Camson “The Gentleman Lawyer’s Guide to Facial Hair” 4 November 2016.

This newsletter is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.

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