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Seven types of discipline and corrective measures you can take to make employees toe the line

by , 18 September 2014
Disciplining employees is no easy task! Especially since there's always the chance they could take you to the CCMA. To stop this from happening to you, you must use discipline and corrective measures that fit the individual circumstances of each case.

Here are seven different types of measures you can use to make sure your employees toe the line, and you can stay out of the CCMA!

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Seven types of discipline and corrective measures
1)    Counsel the employee
Sit down and talk to the employee. Explain that her behaviour is unacceptable and if it carries on, you'll have to take more serious action against her. Let's look at an example…
Johanna arrives for work two hours late. She admits she overslept. She's never done this before, so you tell her lateness isn't acceptable. Tell her you expect her to be at work on time in future.
2)    Issue a disciplinary warnings
If Johanna comes late again without a good reason, you can give her a verbal or written warning. But this will depend on your company's disciplinary policy. If she keeps repeating the misconduct, you can give a final warning.
3)    Have a hearing where you could dismiss the employee
If Johanna keeps coming in late, set up a disciplinary hearing. Let her know that dismissal could be a possible outcome. If an employee commits a 'most serious' offence you can go straight to a disciplinary hearing, without giving counselling and warnings. For example, physical assault of a fellow employee.
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4)    Find out if the employee needs medical treatment
If you find your employee's breaking your rules because of illness, think about referring him for medical treatment instead of disciplining him. Let's look at another example…
You chair a disciplinary hearing where Richard's accused of sleeping on duty. One of the witnesses says Richard takes drugs. He tells you he takes a number of painkillers every day because he has stomach pains. The painkillers are very strong and cause drowsiness. You give him a warning for sleeping on duty. But, you also refer him to a doctor who can diagnose his stomach problem and prescribe appropriate treatment.
5)    Transfer the employee to another branch or site
A transfer is seldom a cure for misconduct. This is because you're probably just transferring the problem. But you can think about a transfer if the working environment is affecting his performance.
Rashid may perform poorly as an internal salesperson because he doesn't like working in an office. But he could become your star travelling salesperson.
6)    You can demote an employee
Demotion can be an effective alternative to dismissal. But you have to get your employee to agree to this in writing. Don't simply demote the employee.
Let's say Jabu, your workshop supervisor, has caused a serious injury to a worker because he didn't check a safety device. At his hearing, you see he was an excellent machine operator before his promotion to supervisor. Instead of firing him, you demote him to machine operator and reduce his pay rate to that of an operator. Remember to get him to sign a new employment contract etc.
7)    Suspension
There are two completely different types of suspension, namely:
• Suspension with pay pending a disciplinary hearing or investigation; and
• Suspension without pay imposed as a result of a disciplinary hearing.
You'll need to know which suspension is appropriate in each case.
Discipline measures are a way to teach employees what behaviour you expect of them. But to make sure you do this fairly, you must follow progressive discipline. This means you start punishing the employee with the least harsh penalty and, if he carries on misbehaving, you can punish him further.
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