Some employees are great at their jobs, but sometimes their behaviour may be inappropriate. It can be hard to know where to draw the line or how to deal with it. Following the right process can help you deal with misconduct before it becomes a bigger issue, and gives you the evidence you need if the issue continues.
All sorts of things can be considered misconduct, this may include:
What you consider to be misconduct should be set out in your employment agreement and policies, so that you and your employees are on the same page about what is not acceptable behaviour.
Some minor misconduct can be dealt with by having an informal conversation with the employee. If the behaviour continues after an initial discussion, or if it's something more serious, you should begin a formal misconduct process.
Informal actions (external link) — Employment New Zealand
Misconduct and serious misconduct (external link) — Employment New Zealand
The steps and suggested timeframes are outlined below and also in this handy guide:
If it's minor, you can just have an informal conversation — but make sure you document it and let them know that if it happens again, you'll be starting a formal misconduct process.
If it's more serious, let them know that you'll be investigating the issue, and will meet with them again after investigating.
If necessary, depending on the nature of the misconduct, get written statements from witnesses, with details like:
Tell the witnesses that you'll be disclosing their allegation to the employee you're investigating. If you witnessed it yourself, document your own statement of the event, and get statements from other witnesses if possible.
Check relevant company policies and your employee's employment agreement for clauses outlining acceptable behaviour. This will let you confirm, if the allegations are proven, that they breached your rules.
Set out your evidence in a letter. The letter should include:
Arrange a meeting with the employee — you can both have a support person there, if you want to.
Set out the reason why you called the meeting. Explain the allegations against the employee and the possible consequences if they are made out.
Give your employee the chance to tell their side of the story. At the end of the meeting, let them know how long you'll take to consider the situation (normally a day or two), and when you'll inform them of the outcome.
Consider all the evidence and decide what the outcome will be. When you have made a preliminary decision you should discuss this with the employee and ask for their response. When you have considered their response, then you can make a final decision. You can:
When deciding how to deal with the behaviour, consider what an objective reasonable employer would do in your situation.
Detail your findings in a letter to your employee, noting what clauses or policies have been breached. State what may happen if the behaviour is repeated.
If you witness or receive allegations of further misconduct by that employee, you'll need to repeat the process above — whether it's for the same behaviour, or something different.
If the misconduct is proved again, depending on the type of misconduct you can:
To reduce the risk of a personal grievance, don’t fall into these common traps:
These will also provide a record of what's happened.