Human resources disciplinary procedures


The human resources disciplinary procedure is a system that identifies the steps that an employer should take when an employee has broken the rules of conduct. Disciplinary procedures are usually set out in an employee handbook or employment contract.

The purpose of a disciplinary procedure is to provide a fair and consistent way to deal with employees who have breached rules or standards of conduct. Disciplinary procedures should also be used to help employees improve their conduct and performance.

An employer can take three main types of disciplinary action: informal action, formal action, and dismissal.

What is a Disciplinary Procedure?

A disciplinary procedure is a formal process that an employer can use to address alleged employee misconduct. Disciplinary procedures can be used to address issues such as attendance, insubordination, and theft. Disciplinary procedures can also be used as a way to document an employee’s misconduct so that the employer can take action if the misconduct persists.

Types of Disciplinary Procedures

There are generally four types of disciplinary procedures: verbal warnings, written warnings, demotions, and termination. The type of disciplinary procedure will be based on the severity of the offense and the employee’s past history.

Verbal Warning: A verbal warning is usually given for a first offense. The employee is told what he or she did wrong and is given a warning that future offenses will result in more serious consequences.

Written Warning: A written warning is usually given for a second offense. The employee is given a written document that states what he or she did wrong and what the consequences will be for future offenses.

Demotion: A demotion is usually given for a third offense. The employee is moved to a lower position within the company with a corresponding decrease in pay.

Termination: Termination is usually given for a fourth offense. The employee is fired from the company and is no longer employed.

When is a Disciplinary Procedure Used?

The purpose of a disciplinary procedure is to address unacceptable employee behavior. This could be something like poor performance, misconduct, or attendance issues. The goal is to get the employee back on track and improve their behavior. Sometimes, a warning or verbal counseling is all that’s needed. Other times, a more formal disciplinary procedure is necessary.

Gross Misconduct

Gross misconduct is serious misconduct which would justify dismissal without notice or payment in lieu of notice. Examples of gross misconduct include (but are not limited to): -stealing or fraud -physical violence -serious insubordination -gross negligence -deliberate breach of health and safety regulations -deliberately putting the company at risk of losses (e.g. by breaching contractual obligations) -taking unauthorised leave during work hours -committing a serious criminal offence (which may also be dealt with by the police and courts)

Serious Misconduct

Serious misconduct is behaviour that is so serious that it justifies immediate dismissal. This might include theft, fraud, violence or serious breach of safety procedures. In cases of serious misconduct, the employer does not have to follow the usual procedure outlined above. Instead, they can dismiss the employee immediately, without notice or compensation.

Minor Misconduct

If the employee’s misconduct is relatively minor, the disciplinary procedure will usually involve a first and final warning. This will be followed by dismissal if the employee repeats the offence within a specified period of time.

In cases of more serious misconduct, such as theft, fraud or violence, dismissal will usually be instantaneous.

The Disciplinary Procedure

The Disciplinary Procedure is a formal process that may be initiated by either an employee or employer. This process is usually initiated when an employee has exhibited inappropriate or unsatisfactory behaviour at work. The aim of the Disciplinary Procedure is to address the behaviour in question and to improve the employee’s behaviour and performance.

The Investigation

The investigate must be carried out as soon as practicable after the employer becomes aware of the possible misconduct. The aim of the investigation is to establish the facts of the case, and not to find out whether the employee is guilty of misconduct. The investigation should be conducted in a manner that is fair and objective, and without prejudice to the employee. The employee should be given the opportunity to explain their conduct, and any relevant witnesses should be interviewed. Any evidence that is gathered during the investigation should be carefully preserved.

The Meeting

The Meeting is an opportunity for the employee to hear the allegations that have been made against them, and to explain their side of the story. The employee has the right to be accompanied by a Trade Union official or work colleague.

The Outcome

The disciplinary procedure should normally result in one of the following four outcomes:

• No further action is taken and the matter is closed;

• A formal apology is made to the person(s) complained about;

• A first written warning is issued; or

• A final written warning is issued.


The decision of the Disciplinary Committee will be communicated in writing to the employee within five working days of the meeting. The employee will be given the opportunity to appeal against the disciplinary decision within five working days of receiving notification of the Disciplinary Committee’s decision.

Appeals must be made in writing to the Human Resources Manager, and must state the grounds on which the appeal is being made. The Human Resources Manager will conduct an investigation into the appeal, and will report back to the employee within five working days of receiving the appeal. The decision of the Human Resources Manager will be final.


The purpose of this paper was to provide a comprehensive overview of the human resources disciplinary procedures. The paper began with a discussion of the different types of discipline that may be imposed on employees. This was followed by a description of the procedures that should be followed when imposing discipline on an employee. Finally, the paper concluded with a discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of disciplinary procedures.

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