Set up disciplinary policies and procedures to save your business money

21 June, 2012 | Carolyn Ranson

Disciplinary issues within a business can cause a myriad of issues. If not handled properly they can cost you thousands of dollars and months of stress.
Even if you have a good reason to dismiss an employee, you can find yourself on the losing side of a personal grievance claim if a dismissal is not handled in a fair way, as prescribed by the law.

The Employment Relations Act (2000) now includes minimum standards for a Court or Authority to use when determining whether a dismissal was fair and reasonable, which can be of some assistance to employers. However, it does not include other factors courts typically take into account when reviewing a dismissal such as whether the sanction was consistent with similar offences in the past; whether the employer followed contractual provisions /or the company’s procedures and the employee’s overall employment history. Nor does the Act provide guidance to employers as to how they can dismiss lawfully.

Engaging a skilled employment lawyer to help you set up disciplinary systems and procedures before they are needed enables you to properly deal with issues of poor performance and misconduct as they arise.

When disciplinary procedures are tailored to your business and supported by practical advice and tools, business owners are able to meet the requirements of the law and avoid any unwanted personal grievances being raised.

Recently we assisted a local business in dealing with a performance issue of a key staff member. The employee’s under-performance was resulting in dissatisfied clients, poor communication with colleagues and increased costs of having to perform rework of its product.

The Smith & Partners employment team prepared a series of template letters for the business owner and provided advice on the process to take.

The business owner was able to use our advice and documentation to work through the performance management process. After several months of performance and disciplinary meetings the employee could see that it was better for him to resign than wait and be performance managed out of the business.

Recently the owner had to deal with a further case of serious under-performance. The owner was able to use our documentation and his learning from the previous issue to deal with this one and only required a small amount of telephone advice when a secondary issue arose. With minimal input from us he was able to dismiss the employee.

Do you have systems in place to deal with disciplinary matters in your business? Would they stand up under legal scrutiny? Or do you have a current performance issue with one of your employees?

Seek advice now and deal with the issue before it becomes more serious and detrimental to your business. You will also be able to demonstrate to your employees that the company is proactive in dealing with issues, as when an employee behaves or performs badly this impacts on the rest of the team and causes dissatisfaction and resentment among other employees.

If you would like advice on any employment law related matters, please contact Suzanne Sumner, Personal Assistant to employment law expert, Carolyn Ranson to find out how you can become a client of Smith and Partners and to set up an appointment to discuss your employment matter with Carolyn.
Suzanne Sumner
Ph: 09 837 6840
Email: Suzanne.sumner@smithpartners.co.nz

Do you need assistance setting up disciplinary procedures?

Contact our employment law expert, Carolyn Ranson today to set up an appointment.

email Carolyn
+64 9 837 6891

About the author

An experienced employment, estate litigation and elder law lawyer, Carolyn completed her law degree at City University, London in 1996. She was in house legal counsel for a large retirement village operator, before entering private practice in 2000. She joined
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