Disciplinary action

Sometimes employee behaviour may be inappropriate and an employer needs to deal with it.

Following the right disciplinary process should assist the employer to work through the issue and to deal with it before it becomes bigger or impacts more widely on the workplace. This process is usually referred to as a disciplinary process and can take many forms. It should be seen primarily as a corrective measure, aimed at preventing further misconduct.

The most common types of disciplinary action are warnings and, in serious cases, dismissal. Disciplinary action can also include counselling, suspension from work, the removal of certain privileges, requirement to attend course/s, reassignment to another role or workplace or, in rare instances, demotion.

Employers should have the procedures (which includes the disciplinary process and the types of warnings etc), along with the types of action that might be viewed as misconduct or serious misconduct set out in writing and available for all parties. This might be in the employment agreement or in the workplace policies and procedures so that everyone knows where they stand as far as this is possible, ahead of any issues coming up.

Disciplinary action must be fair and reasonable in all the circumstances. There are two main aspects to this:

  • the employer must have a good reason for undertaking the disciplinary action, and
  • the employer must follow a fair process before making the decision and then acting on it.

If the employer does not have a good reason for the disciplinary action, or did not follow a fair process, the employee may have a personal grievance.

Disciplinary process

All disciplinary action for misconduct must be carried out fairly, or the employee may have a personal grievance claim against the employer.


An employer may sometimes have to investigate an issue involving an employee.


An employer may sometimes have to suspend an employee from the workplace.

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