Dealing with DISCIPLINE

In most cases our employees want to turn up to work and do a really good job. Unfortunately, there are exceptions and as a result, you will have to manage the behaviour of an employee through a disciplinary process. It’s so important to get the process right – that is your biggest risk! Below is a basic checklist to assist in meeting your obligations and manage the risk:


1. Incident or behaviour occurs

2. Inform the employee of the issue and determine if the situation is serious enough to suspend the person while an investigation takes place? Decision required by you. If unsure, seek advice.

3. Is a disciplinary process required? If yes……..

4. Investigate the incident or behaviour thoroughly and document findings

5. Invite employee to disciplinary meeting by formal letter. Letter should include;

- The allegations and any supporting information and/or evidence

- Time/date/location for the meeting

- Advice that the employee may have a support person present at the meeting

- Potential disciplinary outcomes

6. Hold the disciplinary meeting clearly communicating the allegations and supporting information and subsequently providing the employee an opportunity to respond to the allegations

7. Further investigation may be required at this point depending on the employee’s response

8. Alternatively, you may adjourn (this might be a short adjournment, or it may last for days depending on the circumstances) having listened to the employee response and deciding no further investigating is required. You may decide on taking disciplinary action at the conclusion of the adjournment

9. Make sure your decision is fair and reasonable (this along with good faith obligations are the cornerstone of Employment Law in NZ). Seek advice if unsure.

10. Re-join the disciplinary meeting and advise employee of disciplinary outcome and give them an opportunity to respond. Ensure they have a support person present should this meeting be held at a different time/date

11. Confirm the final decision in writing and present to the employee.

12. This written document will remain on the employee’s file for a certain period of time e.g. 12 months.

Please note that the process used by an employer provides them with their biggest risk when they enter into a disciplinary process with an employee. Almost all case law suggests the process is the key reason for employers getting it wrong………not necessarily the disciplinary action that has been taken!!!!

If you have an issue and would like some advice, get in touch with The HR Guy.


M: 021 543 510

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