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.
You may find our sample letters helpful when working through employment relationship problems. There are nine sample letters. Each deals with a different circumstance:
- Sample letter - matter to be investigated [DOCX, 24 KB]
- Sample letter - invitation to attend disciplinary meeting about potential misconduct [DOCX, 22 KB]
- Sample letter - invitation to attend disciplinary meeting about potential serious misconduct [DOCX, 23 KB]
- Sample letter - suspension pending disciplinary investigation [DOCX, 34 KB]
- Sample letter - written warning [DOCX, 30 KB]
- Sample letter - final warning [DOCX, 33 KB]
- Sample letter - termination of employment (dismissal on notice) [DOCX, 31 KB]
- Sample letter - termination of employment (dismissal without notice) [DOCX, 24 KB]
- Sample letter - invitation to attend meeting to respond to proposed disciplinary action [DOCX, 25 KB]
All disciplinary action for misconduct must be carried out fairly, or the employee may have a personal grievance claim against the employer.