We've all had that employee... The one that just doesn't do what he's supposed to. Whether it's on purpose or not, he's just a delinquent! Let's take Craig. He's had more smoke breaks than you can count, despite you telling him he's only allowed to smoke during his tea breaks. This just keeps happening, and now you want to discipline him.
But where do you start? Is he being insubordinate? Or is he just acting up and ignoring the rules, like a typical delinquent? There are a number of different ways to classify misconduct and you need to know which one best suits your employee's behaviour to make sure you discipline him correctly... And don't land up at the CCMA!
I'm going to show you how to draw up your disciplinary code so you'll know exactly how to discipline your employee in each case.
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12 Guidelines to follow when drawing up your disciplinary code for misconduct
Use the following points as a guide when you draft your disciplinary code:
1. Use simple language
Use clear, simple English. Make the code easy to read and understand. Avoid legal language or jargon.
2. Stick to the principles of fairness
Make sure the code's fair in that it gives employees a fair set of rules and possible penalties.
3. Custom design your code or policy
Your code must reflect your specific industry or sector needs. Don't just copy a disciplinary code from someone else. Customise it to your business.
4. Communicate the code to employees
You must communicate the code to all staff. Don't just do so when new employees start!
5. Always communicate any changes to your code
You have to let employees know if you make any changes to the code. For example, if you add anything, or take any clause out, or even implement a new code.
6. Hold an annual refresher on the code
It's a good idea to have refresher workshops on the code for lower level employees.
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12 Guidelines to follow when drawing up your disciplinary code for misconduct continued…
7. List, separate and arrange offences
Divide offences into two categories:
1) Less serious offences; and
2) Serious offences.
8. Make employees aware of possible penalties
Employees need to know about the penalties for different offences. Include the number of times an employee breaks the same rule and the seriousness of the offence.
9. Reserve dismissal for serious offences
Discipline should be progressive. You must use it to correct unacceptable behaviour. It shouldn't be to punish employees. Only dismiss
employees who commit serious offences.
10. Be flexible
It's sometimes difficult to meet two seemingly opposite goals. Your code needs to provide for equal justice, and you need to apply it consistently.
11. Train managers
You need to train your managers on how to manage discipline within their divisions
12. Have the necessary documentation in place
The code should provide:
Pro-forma charge sheets;
Suspension notices and disciplinary enquiry notices;
Documents to record an oral or verbal warning, a written warning and a final written warning;
A procedural checklist for chairpersons of disciplinary enquiries; and
A pro-forma letter of dismissal, where applicable.
You must use your disciplinary code as a guideline, don't make it rigid and inflexible. Although you apply discipline consistently, you must look at each case. You can deviate from your own disciplinary code but you must have a really good reason to do so.