Professional discipline hearings are paramount to keep employees safe and happy. But why might this procedure be necessary? With that in mind, today I’m sharing tips for facing a professional discipline hearing. Discover more, here…

The importance of professional discipline in the workplace can’t be overstated. Not only does it ensure that everyone in the building is safe… It also keeps the culture in check, and keeps standards high.

You’re probably here because you’re either facing a professional disciplinary hearing, or are deciding the next steps for an employee, and need some help. Well, you came to the right place!

Here, we’ll be discussing what a professional discipline hearing is, why they occur, some classic reasons for issuing one, and the consequences that will ensue. So, read on for more…

What is a Professional Discipline?

A professional discipline is a formal procedure which occurs when an employee behaves in an inappropriate or detrimental way. When a complaint is issued from a client, another employee, the employer, or even the police… A formal hearing is usually necessary. An employee will usually receive a complaint due to:

  • Minor misconduct: something unacceptable, but not criminal.
  • Gross misconduct: something a lot more serious, which could be criminal, or put lives/the business in danger.

Once a warning has been issued, an investigation will take place, and this will lead to a hearing. The hearing will discuss the problem, and the actions and solutions that will be taken from here on in.

Why Are You Facing A Professional Discipline Hearing?

Professional disciplinary hearings are important for a number of reasons. These reasons include, but are not limited to:

  • Making sure all employees are treated fairly and equally;
  • Ensuring the law is adhered to by all employees;
  • Setting standards, so that everyone knows what’s expected of them;
  • Ensuring the business runs as smoothly as possible;
  • Protecting the company from negligence or malpractice;
  • And keeping the company culture in check.

woman carrying out a professional hearing at work

10 Reasons You Might Get a Professional Discipline

So, now we know a bit more about what a professional discipline hearing is, and why it might occur, what’s next? Well, you’re probably wondering what specific situations might lead to a hearing. So, for a classic list of professional disciplines, read on…

1. Not Following Procedures or Instructions Properly

First and foremost, doing your job properly, following the instructions of your superiors, is paramount. Not only does this ensure the job gets done to the best, and most appropriate, standards… It also ensures everyone is safe in the process. So, if the job doesn’t get done to these standards… Then it’s only natural that something must be done about it.

2. Poor Performance

On a similar vein, it’s also important that the job gets done to the best of your abilities. When you interviewed for the job, I’m sure you provided the best version of yourself,. You’ll also have made it clear that you would perform well. So, if your actions don’t meet what was expressed on the tin, an investigation into this should take place.

This poor performance might be malicious, but this is usually not the case. Often, it’s due to other personal issues which are affecting work. During a professional disciplinary hearing, the employer will firstly want to know why you are performing sub-par. Additionally, a solution will be reached to allow you both to move forward. This may include further training, mental health support, dismissal or anything in between.

3. Poor Timekeeping

If you’re constantly arriving late to work, or consistently failing to complete assignments on time.. This is call for a professional disciplinary hearing. Likewise, if you are constantly late to meetings, or anything else which involves a prompt arrival.. You may be called out. After all, if you’re late all the time, this might show your lack of dedication to the job. So how can you be trusted to get the job done to a good standard? Find some commute tips here.

Stressed woman working over time as she's facing a professional discipline hearing for timekeeping

4. Unauthorised Absence

Taking leave without permission is something which a surprising number of employers have mentioned is a big problem for them. This could include either not calling in sick, or actually taking a day’s holiday without asking permission. Either way, this can harvest a lack of trust, and also a lack of honesty and openness within the culture.

5. Not Adhering to Health and Safety Regulations

In a workplace, health and safety is usually a huge priority for employers. It’s important to ensure everyone is safe doing their job. Firstly, doing so means employers adhere to employment law. Additionally, it also ensures work is completed in an efficient and productive way. So, if employees don’t keep up with the procedures for health and safety, this is cause for concern.

Especially now, with people trickling back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be stricter health and safety regulations. Now, ensuring you utilise the temperature sensors, hand sanitiser, or desk wipes responsibly may actually be a matter of life and death for the team. Because of this, it’s so important that these procedures are followed. Additionally, anyone that doesn’t do so, should be called to account.

6. Misuse of E-Mail, Internet, or Social Media

These days, most jobs require the use of the internet to complete them properly. And, with any job where you’re sat in front of a computer all day… It can sometimes be tricky to remain undistracted by the internet’s gems. However, facing a professional discipline hearing because of this is not unheard of.

That said, if you’re often going off track with your working day… Or using social media and the internet for things that aren’t work related: This is a problem. Not only are you not getting the job done, but you’re also likely to be lying on your timesheet. This describes how long you’re spending on certain tasks, so needs to be accurate.

7. Bullying or Harassment

Any situation where an employee is bullying or harassing another is certain grounds for a disciplinary hearing, or even dismissal. This sort of behaviour cannot be tolerated. It will definitely lead to a hostile work environment, so it must be looked into.

8. Gross Negligence

Gross negligence can include a huge number of situations, but a really common example might be in the healthcare sector. For example, if a nurse or doctor administers the wrong amount of medication or anaesthesia, or botches a surgery.. This is call for a hearing. Naturally, in cases where lives are put at risk, it can lead to immediate dismissal.

9. Substance Abuse

Alcohol or drug abuse, especially within the workplace, is also a certain ground for disciplining an employee. However, this is a tricky situation, as addiction and substance abuse is often not the fault of the user.

Stressed bearded man with bottle of beer sitting cross legged on floor near laptop and notebook and considering employment options while searching for job due to facing a professional disciplinary hearing for substance abuse

So, a disciplinary hearing will usually asses the problem. It will also help to get to the bottom of it, and help the employee. After all, if they can take some time off and get better… This often works more in the employer’s favour than hiring someone new.

10. Theft or Fraud

If an employee steals anything, from office supplies to their computer, this is certainly cause for a hearing. What’s more, fraud is also a massive issue which can call for immediate suspension, as it can put the business in harm’s way, and may require police intervention. Because of this, these are some of the more serious offences that an employee can commit. It is these which usually require looking into ASAP.

The Consequences of a Professional Discipline

As we’ve seen, disciplinary hearings are not all about telling employees off. Most of the time, they’re more about finding the reasons for something. Followed by coming to a solution which benefits everyone. But, what if the hearing gets taken further?

Consequences of Minor Misconduct

Once a HR representative has a minor misconduct brought forward, an investigation will need to take place. This will be a case of discovering the facts of the case. This can be considered much like in a court hearing, to decide on the next step.

If the investigation leads to some sort of evidence… The grounds for setting up a professional disciplinary hearing have been set. This will be a formal warning to the employee, either verbally or written. The issue will then remain on the employee’s file for six months, or more. So finding yourself facing a professional discipline hearing isn’t necessarily the end of your professional career.

Content handsome HR manager in formal jacket sitting at table with computer and reading resume of job candidate while interviewing her at meeting in office

As we’ve seen, these hearings are often required simply to discuss the problem. Then to come to a solution that will fix it. So, as part of this warning, a solution or improvement will also be discussed. This could include further training, or an effort to arrive on time. It may also involve the employer offering some help which allows the employee to complete their work on time. Or anything in between.

Consequences of Gross Misconduct

As we’ve seen, gross misconduct is a lot more detrimental, and can lead to more serious consequences for the employee. If serious enough, the employer has every right to suspend the employee, or even dismiss them without notice.

Basically, if the employer sees this person as a risk to the business, these more serious consequences will ensue. But, if the employer feels that the person isn’t a risk, and can learn and act on their mistakes… They may be kept on, subject to a risk assessment.

Is a Professional Disciplinary Hearing in Your Future?

So, there we have it; the ins and outs of the professional discipline procedure, the many reasons this might be necessary. Plus the consequences of facing a professional discipline hearing. I hope you feel as though you’ve learnt something from this. And so now feel ready to take the next step to solve the issue at hand.

Have you ever found yourself facing a professional discipline hearing, either as the employer or the employee? What was the problem, and was the outcome fair? Do let us know your story, in the comments below, to provide us all with a real-life insight.

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