Employee Discipline Maintains Order in the Workplace

Employee discipline requires organization to implement effective disciplinary rules and regulations to maintain order in the workplace.

But the purpose of the rules is not merely to control and manage disorderly or unsatisfactory conduct of employees.

It is also meant to protect other employees who are committing their talents, time and efforts to the organization. This demonstrates to them that your organization is fair and just.

Ethical principles require that you make your disciplinary rules and regulations fair, to ensure that these are clearly defined, easy to understand and are implemented in a just manner.

Every person has the right to protection under the law. This encourages ethical behavior among your employees, that is, doing what are morally right including putting time and effort in doing their jobs in return for what you are paying them for.

It is mainly due to this that we can categorize employee disciplinary rules and regulations under HR laws. You may communicate the rules on employee discipline either as part of the Employee Handbook or issued under a separate booklet.

The second option is a better choice. The Handbook can mention it briefly stating where the other important document is found.

Ethical Behavior

Ethical conduct is required of every employee from the Chief Executive Officer to the janitor or general worker.

Your HR Code of Ethics must define what constitutes morally right or wrong conducts.

Any unethical act by an employee can form the basis for taking disciplinary action against him or her. Unethical conducts are subject to the rules on employee discipline.

It can also bring your organization into conflict with existing laws.


Misconducts are acts or conducts of employees prohibited under the employee disciplinary rules.

A misconduct can lead to disciplinary action taken against the employee at fault. The word "can" is used due to the possibility that the act may have been condoned. This means that someone who has control over the employee concerned failed to take the necessary action "on time." The superior had "allowed" the behavior to continue in spite of it being a misconduct.

It is interesting to note that the particular superior is also at fault for failure to control the conducts of people who report to him or her. State this in your employee discipline handbook.

Depending on the action or inaction of the superior, the seriousness of the misconduct and other surrounding circumstances, such misconduct may or may not result in any punishment under the rules. This is so even if the Disciplinary Panel finds that the employee was actually at fault.

Punishments can range from warning for minor explainable acts to dismissal for serious misconducts such as fighting at work, failure to take safety precaution, or cheating the organization. However, beware of dismissing any employee for wrong reason or through questionable means.

Minor misconducts when continuously committed can amount to major misconducts. An example is when an employee comes to work late every working day.

Misconducts may include:

  1. Assault and / or Battery;
  2. Drunken and Disorderly Conduct;
  3. Intoxicated, that is, being under the influence of drink or drugs;
  4. Insubordination;
  5. Conflict of Interest;
  6. Theft;
  7. Fraud;
  8. Breach of Trust;
  9. Falsification of Documents;
  10. Participation in illegal Strike / Go Slow activity;
  11. Soliciting Sexual Favors / sexual harassment;
  12. Bribery;
  13. Refusal to be transferred;
  14. Negligence / Recklessness;
  15. Borrowing money from other employees;
  16. Sleeping on duty;
  17. Issuing Press Statements without approval;
  18. Others. (This depends on management decision what to include in the Disciplinary Rules and Regulations Handbook.)

When you have an employee who is arrested and put in police custody for a wrongdoing that is unrelated to his or her work, such an act may not fall under the definition of a misconduct as having been committed outside your premises. There is a different set of rules governing employee discipline in such a situation.

Laws on these matters are numerous and complex. It is advisable to seek advice from your legal department or appointed legal advisers. Do it every time you encounter such cases.

On your part as a manager or supervisor, read up a bit on the employment or labor laws applicable in your home country or adopted country where you carry out your activities. Awareness of these can help you to make decision on the next course of action to take.

Counseling for Employees Having Work-Related Problems

Serious misconduct requires you to immediately commence action to terminate the employee who had committed the alleged wrongful act.

Performance-related problems are not directly related to the rules on employee discipline. Here, you may not commence immediate disciplinary action. There are clear legal principles on employee behaviors like this.

Importance of Following Your Disciplinary Procedures

Once your Board of Directors have approved the disciplinary rules, everyone must follow them.

Failure to do so is fatal to the case against the employee. Usually this is a basis for a valid appeal not only before the Appeal Disciplinary Panel but before a court of law.

Employee Discipline requires that you Issue Show Cause Letter

Whether the employee's conduct or behavior is a misconduct or failure to perform, you need to issue a "show cause letter". Again, failure to do this is fatal to the case against the employee.

Giving the employee the opportunity to defend himself or herself is an application of the "Principles of Natural Justice". It is advisable to remember this at all times.

If there is an employee union in your organization, it is an interested party in employee discipline with regard to its members. It then becomes an industrial relations matter.

Click HERE for more information on show cause letter.

Termination of Employees on Probation

Any employee on probation who fails to satisfy any terms and conditions of service may face termination. This is how you do it.

Employee Discipline First Aim is to Provide Help

As a person in authority, you need to initiate action when wrongs are committed. As a superior, you need to take action when you see that some of your people start to show lack of industry in doing their jobs, when they demonstrate that their productivity is going down.

This may even require you to initiate action that can result in dismissing employee at fault.

The need to do this becomes more urgent if it involves misconduct.

Timely action will prevent the problem from getting worse. Taking the right disciplinary action against errant employees in fact helps your organization maintain control over employees.

You may need to suspend the employee to enable you to conduct investigation fairly. Click HERE for a sample suspension letter.

Take action when you believe you need to do something even if this is only to refer the matter higher up for attention. You may have to explain if you fail to do this.

However, take precaution to avoid wrongful termination. And tone down or mitigate the use of power with fairness and justice.

To help you do this, prepare a discipline check list.

Continuous absence amounts to indiscipline. However, check out this Indian case.

Difficult Employees
Turnover and Absenteeism
Link to my eBookstore at Amazon.com

Privacy Policy

To Home Page