Though there is no rigid and specific procedure for talking a disciplinary action, disciplinary procedure followed in industries usually consists of the following steps:
- Framing a charge and issuing a letter: When an employee commits an act of misconduct that requires disciplinary action, the employee concerned should be issued a charge sheet. Charges of misconduct or indiscipline should be clearly and precisely stated in the charge sheet. The charge sheet should also ask for an explanation for the said delinquent act and the employee should be given sufficient time in answering this.
- Consideration of explanation: On getting the answer for the letter of charge served, the explanation furnished is considered and if it is not satisfactory then disciplinary action need be taken. On the contrary when the management is satisfied with the employee’s explanation there is no need for serving a show cause notice.
- Issuing show cause notice: Show cause notice is issued by the manager when he is convinced that there is sufficient prima facie evidence of employee’s misconduct. However, this gives the employee another chance to account for his misconduct vis-à-vis. The charges made against him. Inquiry should also be initiated by first serving him a notice of inquiry indicating clearly the name of the inquiring officer, time, date and place o inquiry, etc.
- Making a full-fledged inquiry: In conformity with the principle of natural justice, the employee concerned must be given an opportunity of being heard. When the process of inquiry is over and the findings of the same are recorded, the Inquiry Officer should suggest the nature of disciplinary action to be taken.
- Passing the final order of punishment: Disciplinary action is to be taken when his misconduct of the employee is proved. While deciding the nature of disciplinary action, the employee’s previous record, precedents, effects of disciplinary action on other employees, etc., have to be considered.
When the employee feels that the inquiry conducted was not proper and the action taken is unjustified, he must be given a chance to make an appeal.
- Follow up: After taking the disciplinary action, a proper follow up action has to be taken and the consequences of the implementation of disciplinary action should be noted and taken care of.
The formal disciplinary process
A formal disciplinary process usually involves a number of stages:
- Investigation (including consideration of suspension)
- Invite to disciplinary hearing
- Disciplinary hearing
- Disciplinary outcome
- Appeal process
Probationary employees are held to the highest standards for behavior and job performance. Progressive discipline is the exception rather than the rule for probationary employees. The Company will normally adhere to the following progressive disciplinary process: As mentioned earlier, discipline generally follows a typical sequence of four steps: written verbal warning, written warning, suspension, and dismissal. Let’s briefly review these four steps.
- Written Verbal Warning
The mildest form of discipline is the written verbal warning. Yes, the term is correct. A written, verbal warning is a temporary record of a reprimand that is then placed in the manager’s file on the employee. This written verbal warning should state the purpose, date, and outcome of the interview with the employee. This in fact, what differentiates the written verbal warning from the verbal warning. Because of the need to document this step in the process, the verbal warning must be put into writing. The difference, however, is that this warning remains in the hands of the manager; that is, it is not forwarded to HRM for inclusion in the employee’s personnel file.
The written verbal reprimand is best achieved when completed in a private and informal environment. The manager should begin by clearly informing the employee of the rule that has been violated and the problem that this infraction has caused. For instance, if the employee has been late several times, the manager would reiterate the organization’s rule that employees are to be at their desks by 8:00 A.M, and then proceed to give specific evidence of how violation of this rule has resulted in an increase in workload for others and has lowered departmental morale. After the problem has been made clear, the manager should then allow the employee to respond. Is he aware of the problem? Are there extenuating circumstances that justify his behavior? What does he plan to do correct his behavior?
After the employee has been given the opportunity to make his case, the manager must determine if the employee has proposed an adequate solution to the problem. If this has not been done, the manager should direct the discussion toward helping the employee figure out ways to prevent the trouble from recurring. Once a solution has been agreed upon, the manager should ensure that the employee understands what, if any, follow-up action will be taken if the problem recurs.
- Written Reprimand
The second step in the progressive discipline process is the written warning. In effect, it is the first formal stage of the disciplinary procedure. This is because the written warning becomes part of the employee’s official personnel file. This is achieved by not only giving the warning to the employee but sending a copy to HRM to be inserted in the employee’s permanent record. In all other ways, however, the procedure concerning the writing of the warning is the same as the written verbal warning; that is, the employee is advised in private of the violation, its effects, and potential consequences of future violations. The only difference is that the discussion concludes with the employee being told that a formal written warning will be issued. Then the manager writes up the warning-stating the problem, the rule that has been violated, any acknowledgment by the employee to correct her behavior, and the consequences form a recurrence of the deviant behavior-and sends it to HRM.
A suspension or layoff would be the next disciplinary step, usually taken only the prior steps have been implemented without the desired outcome. Exceptions-where suspension is given without any prior verbal or written warning occasionally occur if the infraction is of a serious nature. A suspension may be for one day or several weeks; disciplinary layoffs in excess of a month are rare. Some organizations skip this step completely because it can have negative consequences for both the company and the employee. From the organization’s perspective, a suspension means the loss of the employee for the layoff period. If the person has unique skills or is a vital part of a complex process, her loss during the suspension period can severely impact her department or the organization performance if a suitable replacement cannot be located. From the employee’s standpoint, a suspension can result in the employee returning in a more unpleasant and negative frame of mind than before the layoff. Then why should management consider suspending employees as a disciplinary measure? The answer is that a short layoff is potentially a rude awakening to problem employees. It may convince them that management is serious and may move them to accept responsibility for following the organization’s rules.
Management’s ultimate disciplinary punishment is dismissing the problem employee. Dismissal should be used only for the most serious offenses. Yet it may be the only feasible alternative when an employee’s behavior seriously interferes with a department or the organization’s operation. A dismissal decision should be given long and hard consideration. For almost all individuals, being fired from a fob is an emotional trauma. For employees who have been with the organization for many years’ dismissal can make it difficult to obtain new employment or may require the individual to undergo extensive retraining. In addition, management should consider the possibility that a dismissed employee will take legal action to fight the decision. Recent count cases indicate that juries are cautiously building a list of conditions under which employees may not be lawfully discharged.