Handling Workplace Investigations and Conducting Disciplinary Inquiry

Introduction: Handling Workplace Investigations and Conducting Disciplinary Inquiry 

Misconduct in the workplace is not something that any employer wants to have to deal with. When allegations of possible misconduct in the workplace surface, such occurrences require strict and consistent attention, so as to ensure the right precedent is set.

Disciplinary inquiry is a necessary evil that every manager and organisation on a whole, need to be well aware of and familiar with. For statutory employees, it has to be in compliance with the Employment Act. What about that for common law employees?

HR practitioners need to have a thorough understanding of what a disciplinary hearing entails and know how to prepare for such proceedings. Without the correct application and clear knowledge on the right way to deal with possible misconduct, employers will undoubtedly, held accountable for any improper administration of disciplinary proceedings.

Handling Workplace Investigations and Conducting Disciplinary Inquiry

Learning Objectives:

1) Understand the reason for progressive discipline in the workplace.

2) Understand the purpose and implementation of a disciplinary code.

3) Prepare, investigate and frame the appropriate charges for a disciplinary hearing.

4) Help identify and deal with disciplinary matters at the onset.

5) Identify the differences between misconduct and poor performance.

6) Help collect and prepare evidence for a hearing.

7) Understand the responsibilities of an initiator before, during and after a hearing.

8) Help with preparing and questioning of witnesses.

Workshop Outline:

A competent HR practitioner must have the skills and knowledge in the following:

1) An Introduction to Disciplinary Principles

• What is expected of the employee?

• What is expected of the employer?

• Rules of natural justice.

• Explain the importance of holding ‘due inquiry’.

• Explain why holding ‘due inquiry’ is required under Section 14(2) of the Employment Act and Section 35(3) of the Industrial Relations Act.

• Progressive discipline versus punitive discipline.

• The principle of ‘consistence’.

• What makes an effective Investigating Officer?

• Identifying disciplinary problems.

• Deciding on the route to follow, discipline versus poor work performance.

• Knowing the differences between ‘can’t’ and ‘won’t’.

2) Pre-hearing Procedure

• Disciplinary inquiry flow chart.

• Suspension of employee amidst investigations.

• Framing the charges.

• Issuing the Charge Sheet with notice to attend.

• Preparing for the hearing.

• Notices to defendant, complainant, witnesses etc.

• The law of evidence.

• Collecting evidence.

• Gathering information related to the employee.

• Forming a disciplinary inquiry committee.

• Appointing the Chairperson.

• The Issue of Representation.

• Putting it all together.

3) During the Hearing

• The Chairperson’s checklist.

• Key elements to remember.

• The onus of proof.

• Opening statements.

• Presenting evidence.

• Questioning witnesses.

• Cross-questioning witnesses.

• Presenting mitigating and aggravating statements.

• Expecting the ruling.

• Appealing the ruling.

4) Post-hearing Procedure

• Keeping employee records.

• Keeping employee files.

• Documenting findings.

• Changes to be made in terms of work processes in view of the inquiry.

Methodologies

Lecture and case studies.

This workshop is activity-based and participants ‘learn by doing’ through role plays and discussions. Participants will get to assess their own current disciplinary skills in the context of their designation and apply the new skills learnt to plan a course of action for them to be more effective in their preparations for disciplinary hearings.

Who should attend?

Human Resource practitioners.

Workshop Registration: Handling Workplace Investigations and Conducting Disciplinary Inquiry 

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