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Do you know the difference between negligence and gross negligence?

by , 19 August 2013
Do your employees make mistakes? Carry out their duties in a careless manner? Or not follow procedure properlyl? These issues can cost you money, time and effort. And these actions will either be negligence or gross negligence and they have different disciplinary actions.

You need to know the difference!  Keep reading to find out the differences and what you can do...

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What's the difference between negligence and gross negligence?
Well, negligence shows an employee isn't applying an acceptable level of care and conscientiousness to his work duties. Where gross negligence is the serious neglect of his duty. And it has more serious consequences.
Include both negligence and gross negligence in your disciplinary code or policy, because ordinary negligence isn't a dismissible offence. But, gross negligence can result in dismissal for a first offence.
Let's have a look at two examples...
1) Negligence: Your security officer knew about a planned hostile boycott but didn't tell you. He's guilty of negligence, but it doesn't warrant dismissal.
2) Gross negligence: You have a security guard at the exit of your gold recovery plant. His job is to search all employees leaving to avoid theft. You're worried theft's increasing so you install a CCTV camera to check the searching process. Over three days the footage shows one particular guard doesn't search a single employee. You can dismiss him for gross negligence.
Keep reading for a quick test you can do to see the difference...
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Has your employee been negligent?
Always apply this test to check if your employee's been negligent. Ask yourself:
• Did the employee exercise the standard of care and skill expected of him?
• Did the act, or failure to act, lead to damage, harm or loss? Or could it lead to damage, harm or loss?
• Did the loss, or potential loss, to you come directly from the employee's negligence?
When doing this test, judge the employee's action against:
• The standard of a reasonable employee in that particular job, with the same skills;
• The external circumstances at the time of the negligence;
• The industry or sector;
• If the employee could, or should, have foreseen the consequences from the negligence; and
• If the employee had the means to take steps to prevent it.
So before you think about disciplining your employee for negligence, make sure your disciplinary policy is up to scratch and you've followed the correct procedures. Don't have a disciplinary policy in place yet? Click here to get your copy of 50 HR Policies and Procedures you must implement today!
Until next time,
P.S. Are 20% of your employees causing 80% of your headaches? Here's how you can get rid of that poor performer without landing at the CCMA!

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