Navigating the Disciplinary Process
I am having difficulties with an employee.
What do I need to know about navigating the disciplinary process?
Here are a few things to consider.
Before taking disciplinary actions such as terminating or suspending an employee, the employer is required to ensure that they comply with the Labour Relations Code and rules of Natural Justice to ensure that it is a fair and impartial process.
Here are a few items an employer must tick off their checklist to ensure they are compliant:
- Have an Employee Handbook and Disciplinary Code which clearly articulates the rules of the organization, disciplinary offence and associated sanctions, and procedures for conduct of disciplinary hearings.
- Set out in writing the allegations made against the employee so that they know the exact case they are being required to answer. This is called “a charge letter”, and it should also fix the time for a disciplinary hearing, giving the employee sufficient notice of the hearing date, place, and time, and advising them of their right to be represented at the hearing.
- Host a disciplinary hearing, chaired by a senior member of your organisation, or external personnel, to ensure objectivity in the decision-making process.
- Set out the decision of the panel in writing and, if the decision is adverse to the employee, advise them of their right to appeal the decision made.
There is no magic formula to disciplinary proceedings and the steps necessary to remain compliant with the employer’s obligations may differ with each organisation and disciplinary situation.
The stakes are high for an employer who fails to properly conduct the disciplinary process; They may face proceedings before the Industrial Disputes Tribunal with the risk of being
required to make significant monetary payments to dismissed employees as a sanction for unjustifiable dismissal.
The MFG Labour and Employment Law Practice Group regularly assists employers with crafting workplace policies and procedures adapted to fit their organisations and provides advice with respect to specific disciplinary matters that arise from time to time. We also provide representation at conciliation meetings before the Minister of Labour and in contentious proceedings before the Industrial Disputes Tribunal.