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Has your employee been negligent? Consider this...

by , 23 May 2013
Do your employees make mistakes, carry out their duties in a careless manner, not follow procedure properly or not follow it at all? These errors can cost your company money, time and effort. Read on to find out what you should consider if your employee has been negligent.

Employee negligence can result in actual or potential financial losses and customers or clients losing confidence in your company. That's why it's important you nip it in the bud as soon as possible.

But to take appropriate action, you first have to ascertain whether your employee has been negligent or not.

Apply this test to determine if your employee has been negligent

According to The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, you can apply this test to work out whether an employee has been negligent.

Consider whether:

  • Your employee failed to exercise the standard of care and skill that can be reasonably expected of him.
  • The act or failure to act led to damage, harm, loss or had the potential to lead to damage, harm or loss.
  • The loss or potential loss to you arose directly from the negligence of the employee.

When applying this test, judge your employee's action or failure to act against:

  • 'The standard of a reasonable employee in that particular job, with his particular skills,' says the Loose Leaf.
  • The circumstances at the time of the negligence.
  • Whether your employee could or should have foreseen the possible harm resulting from the negligence.
  • Whether your employee had the means to take steps to guard against it.

So what steps can you take once you've determined you're employee was negligent.

Here's what to do if your employee has been negligent

When your employee enters into an employment contract, he doesn't only make his services, skills or labour available to you, he also undertakes to carry out his employment duties with due diligence and care in your specific workplace.

So when he's been negligent in carrying out his duties, you can discipline him.

But to do this, you must have disciplinary code in place that specifies that negligence is an offence. Doing this ensures can avoid an employee's claim that he didn't know he was required to act with due care and diligence.

You should include both 'ordinary' negligence and gross negligence in your disciplinary code. This is because 'ordinary' negligence isn't considered a dismissible offence, especially if it is a first offence of that kind, whereas gross negligence may result in dismissal for a first offence.

The difference between negligence and gross negligence

Negligence is when your employee's conduct indicates he isn't applying an acceptable level of care and conscientiousness to his work duties. As a result, his conduct leads to, or has the potential to lead to, negative consequences for you, such as production delays, damage to equipment or property and financial loss.

Gross negligence is 'serious neglect of the duty of care with generally more serious actual or potential consequences,' the Loose Leaf explains. Remember, repeated negligence that isn't corrected despite warnings can also accumulate to be treated as gross negligence.

Well there you have it! Knowing what to consider if your employee has been negligent will ensure you discipline him correctly.


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