My employee has disciplinary problems
What should I do?

My employee has disciplinary problems

A recent Employment Tribunal case has reiterated the importance of offering training to employees guilty of substandard conduct and warning them that such further conduct may lead to dismissal.

In Kefil v JJ Food Service Ltd the claimant, Mr Kefil successfully claimed unfair dismissal despite the fact that his employer had received a number of serious complaints about his management style from employees.

The problem was that Mr Kefil had never been told that his conduct might lead to dismissal, or been offered any training in how to line manage employees, although he had been given an informal written warning ten months prior to dismissal warning him about his management style.

This case shows the importance of making it clear to employees what standard of conduct is expected and that a repeat of such conduct may lead to dismissal, no matter how apparent it should be to the employee that his/her conduct is unacceptable. In this case Mr Kefil had adopted a dictatorial management style and regularly threatened employees with the sack if they did not do what he said.

It should be noted that in spite of its decision the Employment Tribunal was not very complimentary of Mr Kefil or his management style and also found that the employer had conducted a reasonable investigation.

So what should employers do?

This case may have been decided differently had the informal warning given to Mr Kefil had expressly stated that unless his management style changed and improved he may be dismissed. It is vital that where the employee's conduct does not clearly constitute gross misconduct under the company rules that they are clearly told that it is unacceptable and may lead to dismissal. This can be done by way of an informal warning but is better done by way of a formal warning after a full disciplinary hearing.

Secondly, where an employee's misconduct is intrinsic to the performance of their role then training should be offered to try and remedy this, such as a basic course in line management where the employee is in a first management role.

Follow these simple steps and if the employee fails to respond then you can reasonably state that you have taken all reasonable steps to resolve the situation without dismissal but you are left with no option but to consider the ultimate sanction. Had the employer done this in this case then it is highly unlikely the employee's unfair dismissal claim would have succeeded.

For advice on managing conduct and performance issues in the workplace please call us on 0114 241 7092 for some free advice and to see how we can help protect your business.

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