Disciplinary action and fair process

Warning and dismissals

The most common kinds of disciplinary action are warnings and dismissal.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary for an employer to give three warnings before they can dismiss an employee – unless the employment agreement specifically requires three warnings.  An employer can generally move straight to a final warning or even to dismissal if the proven actions of the employee are so serious as to warrant serious consequences.

Disciplinary action will be unjustified if it is too harsh relative to the employee’s misconduct (for example a final warning on the first occasion an employee arrives late for work).

Disciplinary action will also be unjustified if the employer has not carried out a fair process to establish that the employee is ‘guilty’ of the alleged misconduct.

Fair Process

Generally, a fair process requires:

• A clear, written, statement by the employer explaining the alleged misconduct

• An opportunity for the employee to consider the allegations, and seek advice or representation before meeting with the employer to explain

• An opportunity for the employee to give their explanation

• Fair consideration by the employer of the explanation

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