The Disciplinary Process for Employers
There comes a time when every employer has to address bad behaviour or poor performance of an employee. Most people don’t handle conflict well and sometimes their first reaction to a situation may not be the best reaction. Our advice to start with is to not react at all until you have thought things through. The obvious exception is where the employee’s safety or that of others is at risk.
Employers tell us time and again how they yearn for the days when they could chew into someone and not be hit with a personal grievance claim, well those days are well and truly gone. Ask any employer who has been faced with a personal grievance process; the economics usually do not stack-up in favour of the employer.
What is the best approach?
There is no single approach for the many varied situations that you may be facing but the first step is to keep your cool and map out a fair and reasonable process. This will involve an investigation of the circumstances where the employee gets to have their say. It is crucial that the employee is given a fair chance, so invitations to meetings should be written, spelling out the alleged offences, what the possible consequences are and above all giving them a chance to bring a support person or representative to the meeting. Never ambush an employee with anything; this will not go in your favour.
If you keep an open mind, and this is what you are supposed to do, you may well find that the circumstances are not as they first appeared.
If you follow a fair process, the likelihood of facing action later is greatly diminished. We have advised employers who have hundreds of employees and have been in business for 10+ years with not one Personal Grievance claim to speak of. The reason is because they follow recommended procedures, thereby constantly minimizing the chance of any successful action against them.
Employment Help NZ is available to advise you on processes, supply template letters or attend meetings alongside you. For advice email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 00 3836.