Disciplining employees is one of those dreaded and unfortunate aspects that you must sometimes deal with as a business owner.
However, you cannot take a haphazard approach to disciplinary procedures when employees are involved. There actually needs to be a sound legal framework behind it or you will face possible unfair dismissal claims or claims of discrimination.
In this post, we’re going to elaborate a little more on this and give you some pointers when creating your own legally sound disciplinary procedures.
Why Have A Disciplinary Procedure?
The main reasons why you’d want to implement disciplinary procedures is because they improve employee performance over time and reduce legal liability on your part.
However, they also give you a firm platform you can operate from when it comes to situations where it may be necessary to terminate an employee. They allow you to identify problems in employee behaviour and give you appropriate steps to take to address those problems.
They also give you, your managers and also your employees a very clear idea as to how any disciplinary matters will be treated and what kinds of outcomes you should be looking to achieve from the entire procedure.
The facts are that disciplining employees is an area that can often land a business in trouble. There are too many cases where a disgruntled employee has cried discrimination or unfair dismissal, and in many cases the business in question could have avoided this just by having a legally sound disciplinary procedure.
What All Sound Disciplinary Procedures Should Include
Your disciplinary procedures should include essentially how you’re going to deal with any problems in your business.
They should encompass any of the following:
- Code of conduct
- What punishment will be
- A standardised process that is the same for everyone
- Quick response
- An appeals procedure
- Reservation of rights
All employees must be made aware of this and this exact process when they are being disciplined. In fact, they should be given some kind of onboarding training before they fully start employment with your company that should include this disciplinary procedure.
The easiest way to do that is with an employee handbook that details when and why employees would need to face disciplinary procedures.
When To Discipline Employees
Once you have worked out all the elements you need for your procedure and disciplinary process, you now need to make sure it’s clear when employees will be subject to this procedure.
For example, there are certainly going to be offences that warrant immediate termination and it should be made very clear in your business code of conduct what those are. Obvious offences include things like theft, physical violence against other employees or customers, being caught with drugs on the business premises, and more.
In those instances, you are well within your rights to immediately terminate employment. However, there are lesser offences that will require you to discipline employees.
Common reasons why you’d do this are unacceptable behaviours or some form of misconduct. Examples of this could be swearing in front of customers. It could be abusing other staff or managers. It could be not properly following instructions repeatedly There may even be health and safety reasons for using your procedures like smoking in area of the office where it’s not allowed. A common one to surface in the last decade or so is talking or texting on mobile phones.
The main thing is to make sure it’s clear what behaviours are acceptable and unacceptable, and that employees understand this clearly. Then when any breach occurs you can follow your disciplinary procedure that they should already be familiar with if they read your company employee handbook.
The bottom line is that you need to make sure you have a disciplinary procedure in place at your company for dealing with unacceptable behaviours and misconduct.
The most important thing is that it is a legally valid document and follows all legal guidelines for your industry. Do that and you can be sure that your chances of facing an unfair dismissal or discrimination claim will be greatly reduced.
The easiest way to ensure that they’re legal is to just get a lawyer to draft them for you. If you’d like to find out more about creating legal disciplinary procedures then get in touch with us today and make sure you’re protected.