Every workplace has its ethics and it can be challenging to ride a fine line between acceptable and unacceptable behaviours. In a few places, even sitting with your feet on your desk can get you fired. Although definitions of misconduct can vary across workplaces and the rules are different, there are certain broad categories of misconduct that are widely accepted as a norm. It’s very important for managers and employers to be aware of how they should manage inappropriate behaviours at work. You may be stressing about whether to dismiss certain employees who may be guilty of misconduct. This can create a tense situation unless it is resolved in a way that is acceptable under Australian Fair Work Law. Let’s take a closer look at issues that could be categorised as misconduct and the actions that you can take to resolve them.
Under the Australian Fair Work Act, employers have the right to terminate an employee on the basis of misconduct. However, the burden of proof lies with the employer before the dismissal can be considered as legal and valid. Every business strives to create a harmonious and productive but inappropriate behaviour (misconduct) can negatively impact the best workplaces. In general, it’s important for managers to be aware of the types of misconduct according to Australian law. This is so that you are able to meet your legal obligations to your employees and maintain workplace harmony. Inappropriate conduct is not as serious as misconduct and may include acts that are not done with a wilful or malicious intention. These could include shouting, swearing or making loud remarks in the workplace. It generally refers to behaviour that is crass or crude but not necessarily illegal; it also includes innocent mistakes that occur due to error of judgement.
Australian laws stipulate that misconduct includes more serious acts that justify a warning and could potentially lead to dismissal. Misconduct refers to acts that are done wilfully with a malicious or negative intent. In order to determine misconduct, you must take into account the nature of the act itself rather than just the consequences. Misconduct commonly includes behaviours such as intentional violation of company policies, persistent lateness in coming to work and misuse of company equipment. Similarly, selling confidential company information, causing harm to the health and safety of other employees and behaving in a way that impacts the company’s viability and profitability can be described as serious misconduct.
It follows that whenever an employee has performed an act of misconduct, the employer must take proportionate disciplinary action. It’s not always necessary that every misconduct must result in dismissal. Other forms of disciplinary action could include issuing a warning, counselling, behaviour modification or retraining the employee. The seriousness of the misconduct will determine if he or she could face impending dismissal. While deciding on the type and extent of disciplinary action, the employer or manager should also consider age of the employee, length of service and history and so on.
For example, you should ensure that you explain the act that led to the disciplinary action. You should also ensure compliance with business policies and Australian laws. It can be tricky to determine if the disciplinary action that you are contemplating is in accordance with the nature of misconduct and with Australian Fair Work Act. Mishandled disciplinary procedures are likely result in increased likelihood of punitive action and compensation claims.
Professional intervention can help resolve misconduct issues in a fair and legitimate manner. At ESN, we strive to provide satisfaction and peace of mind to our esteemed clients. We are happy to provide our reliable investigative services to private as well as government organisations. Please feel free to contact us for any information regarding our range of services.