From time to time, employers have to deal with allegations of employee misconduct. Handling these allegations can be stressful, unpleasant and disruptive. For the employer, it is also important to deal with it properly to minimise the risk of costly and protracted legal proceedings in relation to unfair dismissal claims.
For the employee, there should be an expectation that the allegations will be dealt with fairly and according to natural justice.
This can be a complex area of the law, but there are some basic principles that have been established for some time.
What standards of behaviour are your employees required to meet?
- Serve you faithfully
- Maintain your confidence
- Take reasonable care
- Co-operate with you as far as it is reasonable to do so
- Obey your reasonable and lawful instructions
What is employee misconduct?
- Unacceptable behaviour by employees that is inconsistent with their obligations to you
- Is not the same as poor work performance
Step-by-Step procedure for handling misconduct:
Investigate the matter
Communicate the misconduct allegation to the employee
Allow the employee the opportunity to respond to the allegation
Determine whether there is enough evidence to prove misconduct occurred
Decide what course of action to take if you find misconduct occurred
Can you suspend an employee during a misconduct investigation?
- the claims against the employee are serious and there is the possibility they could be dismissed if misconduct is proven;
- the employee is likely to interfere with the investigation; or
- the employee’s presence in the workplace may cause harm to your business.
If this article has raised any concerns for you or your organisation please do not hesitate to contact either John Hayward or Kate Smith on (07) 4046 1126, for advice specific to your circumstances.