How can I be a great employer?
What are grounds for instant dismissal?
If you feel that ongoing poor performance justifies misconduct, it may be time to issue a warning or you may have grounds for dismissal. There are steps you must take to minimise the risk of facing a personal grievance allegation. It’s a good idea to seek legal advice if there are allegations of serious misconduct that can lead to dismissal. Meet with your lawyer to ensure you’re proceeding within the law and encourage the employee to seek legal advice also.
Dismissing an employee is a very serious decision and you need to consider it carefully. Keep in mind:
- If there are any alternatives, or if dismissal really is the only option
- If there are any mitigating factors
- Were your rules clear? Did the employee fully understand they were breaking them?
- If you did anything to contribute to the issue
- If they’ve been warned about this before
- How long they’ve worked for you.
When you’re making the decision, you also need to remember that you can only dismiss someone if they:
- Haven’t improved their performance as per a performance management plan
- Haven’t improved their behaviour after a formal warning about misconduct
- Have committed an act of serious misconduct so severe you’ve lost all trust and confidence in them.
Once you’ve fully investigated the misconduct, checked your policies and employment agreements for what constitutes serious misconduct, and are confident you can prove that they’ve breached them, it’s time to:
- Put it in writing – you need to include details of the allegations (including any witnesses), details of any previous misconduct, references to the clauses in the employment agreement that constitute serious misconduct, a date to meet with the employee to discuss (and make sure they know they can bring a support person), and the consequences of what may happen if the allegations are upheld. Specifically, that you’re considering dismissal.
- Meet with the employee – go over the allegations and the possible consequences. Give them time to tell their side of the story and let them know how long you expect to take to come to a decision.
- Make the decision – if you’ve decided that dismissal is the only option and you don’t believe a final warning is sufficient, you need to put your decision in writing. Include again how they’ve breached clauses or policies, the reason you decided on this outcome and what the notice period will be, including their last day of employment.
- If you’ve lost trust and confidence in them completely, you may be able to use summary dismissal – this is letting them go without a notice period.
How do I discipline staff legally?
If you have an employee who’s often late for work, is behaving inappropriately, has breached confidentiality or engaging in unsafe behaviour, you need to think about a misconduct management plan.
- Have a chat – it could be that just sitting down with the employee and having an informal chat about what’s been going wrong is all that’s needed. They may just need to unload, but were unsure of how to approach you. If you can resolve it at this stage – congratulations. Make sure you keep a record of it though, in case that’s not the end of it.
- Investigate – if they’ve actually done something wrong, such as stealing or behaving inappropriately towards a colleague, then you need to find out when and where it happened and if anyone saw it. You’ll need to get statements from witnesses and you’ll have to tell them that you’ll be using their statement when dealing with the employee. Once you’ve got all your evidence, you need to decide if you think the employee is guilty of misconduct. If you think that they are, there are steps you must take to manage it correctly and within the law.
The last thing you want is for an employee to file a personal grievance against you. You can avoid this by:
- Documenting everything, no matter how minor and storing it in their employee file.
- Talking to your employee about each issue. Every time you have a concern, you need to raise it with them.
- Making sure you follow the set processes before taking any kind of action.
- Making sure the employee knows they can have a support person with them if you’re alleging misconduct against them.
At the end of the day, most problems can be solved simply by not letting them escalate. As an employer, it’s important to watch your team closely for any signs of trouble, and make sure they know they can approach you and talk to you about anything that’s bothering them. If they feel that you’re understanding, supportive and will protect their confidentiality, they’re more likely to come to you with their problems. This is something that should be encouraged, because the sooner a problem is identified, the faster and easier you can resolve it.
Meet your employer obligations
Being a great employer starts with understanding what your obligations are and it is your responsibility to ensure that all your employees are being taxed accordingly.
It’s important to have a good payroll system, like MYOB Essentials Payroll, that automates compliance for you by keeping you up to date with the latest IRD tax changes including ACC, KiwiSaver and Student Loan rates.
It also takes the hassle out of running pay runs by automating payroll compliance, meeting your record keeping requirements and of course keeping your employees happy.
For more information to assist you with each stage of the employment lifecycle,
download our FREE Essential Employer Guide.
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