sample disciplinary procedure

Step 1 – employees who are performing unsatisfactorily will be counselled so they understand the standards expected of them. They will be offered assistance and guidance in achieving the expected standards.

Step 2 – confidential records of any counselling undertaken will be made. The employee will be shown and given a copy of the written record and will have an opportunity to comment on its contents. This can be done either in writing or orally. The record will only be placed on the employee’s personal file when the employee has been given the opportunity of responding to the record and adding any notations regarding the contents of the record.

Step 3 – employees whose performance or behaviour is unsatisfactory will be given adequate time to demonstrate a willingness to improve. If at the end of this period the employee shows no willingness to improve in the opinion of the employer, a final warning in writing will be issued to the employee. This notice will inform the employee in writing that disciplinary action up to and including dismissal may be taken if the employee does not cease the unsatisfactory performance or behaviour immediately.

Step 4 – the employer also has the right to summarily dismiss an employee for serious and wilful misconduct.

Step 5 – at every stage of the disciplinary process, the employee has the right to have another employee or union representative present as a witness.

Number of warnings?

There is no hard and fast rule about the number of warnings an employee should receive before disciplinary action is taken. In many cases the number of warnings will depend on the problem that is being addressed. The employer/manager should give their employee a number of chances to improve their behaviour or conduct. But the employer should not issue a large number of warnings as this could give the staff member the impression that his or her conduct is not really serious and will not merit dismissal.

In general, three warnings would be considered adequate. It is suggested employers make sure their employee realises the number of warnings is not open-ended and it is made very clear the final warning will lead to action.

Before deciding on disciplinary action

When deciding on the most appropriate form of disciplinary action, the following issues should be considered:

• whether your disciplinary procedure indicates what the likely penalty for certain behaviours will be e.g. do you have examples of what constitutes gross misconduct stated in your procedure?

• what have the penalties been in the past for the same offence?

• are there any mitigating circumstances which might enable you to lessen the penalty?

• what is the employee’s current disciplinary record, length of service and position within the company?

• is the penalty you are imposing reasonable in view of all the circumstances?

• although past company rulings and disciplinary procedures will provide guidance on what penalty should be issued, each case should be considered on its own merits as there may be special circumstances which will influence the decision.

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