Every company should have a well documented disciplinary procedure in order to discipline any employee should the need arise.
While acting as Chairman of various disciplinary inquiries, I have noticed that a number of companies did not have a proper procedure.
The basic points that a disciplinary procedure should cover are:
- A counseling procedure: The main aim of a disciplinary procedure should be to correct incorrect behaviour. This should be a recorded (written or audio) discussion session between the employer and employee.
- Verbal warning: A repeat transgression needs to be address through a warning system. Although it is called a “verbal” warning, it needs to be recorded on his / her personal file and followed up by a counseling session(s). All discussions need to be recorded and placed on the person’s file.
- A 1st and 2nd written warning: Here more serious transgressions need to be addressed. The warnings need to be spelled out on a charge sheet. Again it needs to be followed by counseling session(s) and everything recorded and placed on file.
- Final written warning: This is for even more serious cases or repeat transgressions. As before it should be followed by a counseling session(s) and all discussions recorded and placed on file.
- Dismissal: This is for serious repeat offenders or for a serious offence such as theft, dishonesty, desertion, assault, intimidation, gross insubordination, willful damage to equipment or property etc.
- An Appeal procedure: Every good Disciplinary Procedure will have an internal Appeal system. It assists in fairness, natural justice and transparency.
The process should also have the required forms and it should be made known to all employees. The recommended sanctions for the different transgressions should also be available.
Different offences have different action levels: late for work would start with a counseling session and could after the various warning end up in dismissal, while unwarranted absence from work without a good reason would have a final written warning for the 1st time and dismissal on the 2nd time. Should a person desert his place of work, he could be fire on the first offence.
It might seem very onerous on management, but if correctly applied it will ensure fairness and natural justice. A good disciplinary procedure used correctly and fairly will ensure minimal non-compliances and disruptions.
For more information we would like to refer you to some other articles written by myself which are on our website www.wilbrink.co.za