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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