Handling Disciplinary Procedures In The Workplace

Procedures and discipline can be complex. Several kinds of occurrences can arise within the workplace, making it tricky to identify the most suitable form of disciplinary action. Policies and procedures assist in providing a road map, helping employers gain greater insight.

The purpose of a disciplinary code is to regulate employee standards of conduct within a workplace. Disciplinary procedures must be fair and provide mechanisms to deal effectively with breaches of conduct.

Parties’ Obligations

As the employer, you must ensure that all employees are up to speed regarding details of the rules and standards of behaviour expected of them. As the employee, it is within their responsibility to adhere to the disciplinary code, procedures, and requirements outlined at their workplace.

Counseling Versus Disciplinary Action

Counseling and disciplinary action differ in that disciplinary action comes into play when an employee breaches a regulation that cannot be condoned. Counseling is a resource if an employee is not performing at the expected standard or breaches a relatively minor rule that can be condoned.

Before deciding which approach to take, management must consult the employee, allowing them to relay the nature of the breach. As the employee, they are within their rights to offer a response and explanation.

Forms Of Discipline

There are many ways that an employer can go about enforcing discipline. The choice will largely depend on the severity of the breach. We have listed these disciplinary methods in order from least to most severe.

  1. A verbal warning
  2. A written warning
  3. A final written warning
  4. Temporary suspension void of pay
  5. Demotion
  6. Dismissal

When Can An Employer Hold An Enquiry?

An enquiry can commence as soon as the employer becomes aware of the offence. The suspension must commence as soon as possible, especially if the employee's presence could jeopardise the investigation. Within 48 hours, the employer should hand over the notice of enquiry, which must include:

  • The date, time and location of the hearing
  • Details of the breach and charges
  • Employee rights

Who Should Be Present At The Enquiry?

At the enquiry, the following persons should be present:

  • A chairperson
  • Management representative
  • The employee
  • An optional employee representative (they decide)
  • Witnesses providing evidence
  • Interpreter if required

How Should A Hearing Be Conducted?

The employer leads the hearing by presenting evidence to support the allegations against the employee, followed by the employee’s response. The chairperson asks witnesses relevant questions to provide clarity to the situation. The chairperson can then decide whether the employee is at fault. If they are found to have committed misconduct, the chairperson can ask both parties to submit appropriate measures. From this point, the chairperson can choose which sanctions to impose.

KVR Consulting can help you instil policies and procedures in your workplace to ensure discipline and disciplinary action.

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