We all know HR can be a real minefield if you’re not sure of the correct process to follow when you suspect an employee is up to no good.
It isn’t clearly documented in legislation, but case law has given us a great framework that should be applied whenever a disciplinary matter rears its head.
Below we have outlined the main steps of a disciplinary process:
Step 1 – investigate the allegations you’ve received. Review documentation, access systems / IT information, review footage of CCTV or listen to recorded audio, and interview witnesses. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to do one or all of these things.
Step 2 – review the information you’ve gathered and decide if a formal meeting is actually required – if there is nothing to substantiate the allegation, then it’s case closed and no further action is taken. But if the information indicates there is a case to be answered, you need to proceed through the process.
Step 3 – consider suspension (providing your employment agreement allows for it) – make sure you consult with the employee as to why you are considering suspension and make sure you do it on full pay.
Step 4 – provide the employee with a letter inviting them to attend a formal meeting. There are some key points that must be in the letter, and you must provide all the information gathered through the investigation so the alleged offender knows exactly what they’re needing to respond to. Encourage them to bring along a support person to the meeting.
Step 5 – hold the meeting. This is the opportunity to hear the other side of the story. Don’t jump to conclusions – you have to hear them out and genuinely consider their explanation before making any decisions on the outcome of the process.
Step 6 – take a break from the meeting and consider what a suitable outcome should be – the punishment needs to fit the crime, as they say.
Step 7 – reconvene and advise the employee of the outcome. You have 4 potential options:
More often than not, the PG cases that come before the ERA resulting in an employer having to pay out a substantial amount of money are due to a fault in the process, so you have to get it right!