I have just returned from a chairing a disciplinary hearing where a service station forecourt attendant negligently dispensed petrol into a diesel powered vehicle.
The attendant acknowledges that he is responsible for the error, and evidence presented confirms his negligence. This is the third occasion in a period of four year where this has happened with this attendant.
The company disciplinary code specifies that as a first offence the penalty should be a final written warning or dismissal, dependent on the circumstances.
The previous warnings from the hearings held have long since expired but are still in the employees personal file.
This is by far the incident that has resulted in the largest claim against the service station and includes the draining of the vehicles fuel systems and replacement of fuel filters, the cost of a rental vehicle while the affected vehicle was being repaired and the cost of fuel lost and replaced as a result of the contamination.
The total claim amounts to approximately R 8000-00. The petrol attendant earns R 1800-00 per fortnight.
On previous occasions the attendant has been issued with a final written warning on each occasion and has been required to compensate the business for costs incurred.
On this occasion the hearing initiator is calling for a dismissal in view of previous offences.
I accept the he is guilty of the charges and I believe that a dismissal would be invalid as all previous warnings have expired, or should they still be considered in arriving at a penalty?
Should the service station have taken steps to ensure that this situation did not occur again? All forecourt attendants are regularly exposed to expected processes in order to ensure that the acceptable service standards are maintained which are tested by a mystery motorist from time to time.
Should the attendant be held responsible for the costs incurred, and if so how should this be recovered?
Your input is appreciated.