Misconduct, Warnings & Dismissals

Are you following the correct process?

There’s a common misconception that dismissing an employee can easily solve misconduct issues! Before jumping the gun, it is important to consider giving your misbehaving employees a warning to give them a chance to improve their conduct. Fair Work takes this into consideration in unfair dismissal cases, so it is best practice to provide employees with warnings before dismissal is considered.

Misconduct refers to behaviour that is unacceptable at work, or when an employee doesn’t perform their job properly. Disregarding your organisation’s policies, procedures or ‘rules’ is an example of misconduct. Serious misconduct refers to conduct that is deemed wrongful or unlawful and usually implies the act was intentional, and not just a mistake or error of judgment. Serious misconduct occurs when:

  • an employee causes risk that is either serious or imminent, to the health and safety of another person,
  • causes imminent or serious risk to the reputation or profits of the business, or
  • their conduct does not reflect what is expected of them, as outlined in your Code of Conduct Policy.

When issuing employees with warnings there are a few guidelines to follow. A warning should be in writing and include all the details about the warning and its reason, and set expectations for improvement.

Once the employee has received the warning performance meetings should be held regularly to ensure they are meeting expectations to improve their conduct. As an employer, you should acknowledge an employee’s improvement in order to encourage them further. If your employee’s conduct does not improve, there are several options to consider. These include further meetings, issuing additional warnings, or termination as a last resort.

When considering termination you must ensure the employee is receiving the correct notice of termination and final pay, and not being unfairly dismissed. In the case of serious misconduct you do not have to provide the employee with a notice of termination, although you do have to pay their outstanding entitlements, including annual leave.

Retaining your existing employees may save your organisation in the long run from future recruitment and training costs, so it should be considered best practice to initially issue warnings to employees before considering dismissal. If dismissal is the best option for the situation, you need to ensure you’re following the requirements outlined by Fair Work, and your employment contracts, to save your organisation from more pain in the future.


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Marisa Ross

HR Advisor

Marisa is an experienced and motivated HR professional with a strong HR generalist and business operations background with a focus on employee relations, performance management, leadership training & development, workers compensation & injury management, and employee retention. Marisa holds a Bachelor of Human Resource Management and a Bachelor of Behavioural Science with a minor in Counselling. Having worked in a variety of industries from SMEs to large blue-chip organisations, Marisa is passionate about enriching employee experience, employee retention, and building leadership capability in people management.

Aimee Grigson

Aimee Grigson

WHS Advisor

Aimee has a strong understanding of Workplace Health and Safety Legislation and standards and has extensive HSEQ experience in a number of industries. Aimee has a great ability to engage across all levels of organisation, including field teams, leadership and external stakeholders. Aimee ensures Health and Safety Management Systems are compliant to legislation, effectively implemented and understood by all. Aimee has a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety and qualifications in auditing and incident investigations. Aimee is passionate about coaching and developing small businesses towards a positive safety culture.