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Disciplinary Sanction

Hi

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this scenario.  

A disciplinary hearing has been held for a long standing member of staff who already has a first and final written warning for conduct which is still valid.  A thorough investigation was carried out for potential neglect of a client as they failed to obtain clinical advice in a timely manner that resulted in the client spending time in hospital.  The disciplining manager is considering a warning with sanction short of dismissal and putting in place no lone working, which will impact earnings, for a period of time (unknown to me at present).  

What advice should I be giving the manager in terms of the process for putting this in place if they decide to do this?  The staff member would still have the same job title so it's not really a demotion, but they would be restricted to the shifts they can do as they would be in one location (hourly paid contract).  Am I right in thinking that their agreement would have to be sought first before it is put in place? What happens if they don't agree, does it simply change to dismissal, but this doesn't sit right with me? Do you think this is a fair outcome?

I look forward to hearing your words of wisdom...

Natalie

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Replies

  • Hi Natalie,

    A really interesting scenario. As an L&D Professional I am out to learn more about the HR practices in other companies. 

    Could I please ask what you and your manager wanted to get from any action decided on? I ask because it seems to me, and as others have pointed out, if someone was on a final written warning, and have made a big enough error to warrent further disceplinary action, then why are they not dissmissed? Is it because they are generally a good hard worker who is worth keeping at the company or is it because the manager just does not want to let this person go because they like them as a person, or just doesnt want to make the hard call? Or are there further HR factors at play here? 

    If this person is given more chances and continues to breach policies then by extending chances just opens up the business to more vuneralbility in my opinion. But as I said I am looking to learn more about HR practices so if you or anyone can infrom me its much appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Carl

    • Hi Carl.  You're aboslutely right about the process with the final warning and I initially believed that it would simply be a case of dismissal.  However, this was quite a complex situation in the end and there were mitigating circumstances that needed to be considered in order be fair. It was never a case of deciding the outcome due to them being a nice person or the manager not wanting to make the hard call.  I also think that the business could be opened up as being a bit of a soft touch if the process appears to be going 'offroad' but it was definitely the right outcome for this scenario.  Thanks for your input and I hope my response has helped.

  • Hi Natalie, 

    Is there anything in your standard contract T&Cs or your disciplinary policy/staff handbook about disciplinary sanctions relating to shift work that may cause loss of earnings? If so, then you're probably fine to take this course of action as the employee has had fair warning that it's a possible outcome of misconduct. However, if not, then you might be better off steering clear of that at this time. I agree that extending the current warning letter would be a good idea, and perhaps lay out quite clearly to the employee what the results of further transgressions may be- no lone working resulting in a loss of earnings, or possible dismissal. 

    I'm not sure of the actual legal issues around causing an employee to lose earnings, but it could be a murky area and possibly best not to go there if you can. 

    Have you also considered, rather than stopping lone-working for this employee, giving them some training with a more experienced member of staff? You could set up a performance improvement plan with key learning points and targets for them to achieve and have a high-performing team member shadow and mentor them. This might be a more positive, and long-term, solution than simply a disciplinary and warning. 

    Good luck,

    Chrissy

    • Thanks Chrissy.  I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Some really good advice there and after a lot of deliberation the manager has decided to extend the warning alongside a performance improvement plan. 

  • Hi,

    I take it the previous warning are for a similar conduct issues?  Conduct is conduct at the end of the day.  If the final written warning is still in place, you could consider extending the warning for a period of time for them to learn from this error and understand the implications of what there actions could potential have (worst case scenario).  If the employee does the same things again, or a similar conduct during the warning extenstion you could potentially end the employee's employement with the Company.  Again, you would need to make sure that everything have been covered from an HR side is watertight to ensure that there couldn't be a possibility of a potential tribunal case against the employer.

    Hope this helps?  I have deallt with something similar in the past.

    Dawn

    • Thanks for your reply Dawn.  The decision was made to extend the warning and to maintain regular supervisions alongisde a performance improvement plan.  You're right about making sure everything is covered though.

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