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  • Writer's pictureShona

Disciplinary Decision Making

Updated: May 7, 2022

Making a decision on whether someone should receive a sanction, or even lose their job is a complex matter. There are several things that you must consider as well as ensuring you are balanced and fair in your decision making, considering the facts in front of you as well as potential business pressure.

Seriousness of the offence

The first thing to consider is the seriousness of the offence. This helps you determine whether the offence constitutes misconduct or gross misconduct.

Offences constituting misconduct are often things like persistent lateness, timekeeping, procedural breaches or other minor offences.

Gross misconduct tends to be offences including bullying, harassment, health and safety offences, theft etc.

There are sometimes scenarios where offences may sit smack bang in the middle of the two. These would be considered serious misconduct.

Sliding scale

When you know how serious the offence is, you then have a good guide as to sanctions which fall within the range of reasonable responses.

So, imagine a sliding scale with no action at one end and dismissal at the other, with written and final written warnings in between.

Now the seriousness factor we have already talked about gives you your starting point. If the offence is considered by you to be gross misconduct, your sliding scale would be sat between final written warning and dismissal.

Let's look at what other factors can move your sliding scale.

Mitigating circumstances

These are circumstances that excuse or mitigate the employees actions. For example, let's say you're hearing is to discuss an employee punching a colleague. The employees mitigation could be that they were provoked into physically assaulting their colleague and have never displayed such conduct in their 8 years of employment. Therefore you might slide the scale down to a final written.

On the other hand, there might have been no reasonable explanation for the conduct and the employee is already on a written warning for aggressive behaviour. Therefore your decision might be to slide towards dismissal.

Mitigating circumstances which should always be considered, even if not presented by the employer include:

🟣 Previous good conduct

🟣 Length of service

🟣 Provocation

🟣 Malicious intent

🟣 Live disciplinary sanctions

Policy Guidance

The final consideration you must give is to your company policy. Consistency is incredibly important. This does not mean applying the same sanction to the same allegations. It means applying the same approach to the same allegations, considering the same mitigation and approaching similar serious allegations in the same way.

Every case is different, there is no one response to an allegation but your policy gives you a very good starting point.

My approach to any disciplinary is fairness, consistency and standards.

Always ensure you are fair, consistent and aim to achieve the standards of behaviour you want for your business.


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