Conduct and Performance

The Carrot and the Stick: The Tricky Issue of Appropriate Disciplinary Action by Employers

Disciplinary action for poor or inappropriate performance is all too often seen in very one-dimensional terms. Often, it can be a fantastic opportunity for the business to address difficult issues in a constructive and ultimately extremely cost effective way. However, in most circumstances the use of warnings serves only to alienate and disincentivise employees, to the extent that they either leave the business or the business terminates the employment. When it comes to disciplinary action in the workplace, it is our experience that many employers seem to limit themselves to the use of only warnings or dismissal even though there may be a range of other options available to employers.

Romance in the Workplace

People spend a significant amount of time with each other at work, it is therefore perhaps unsurprising that workplace relationships are common with which many employers need to deal. Most employers are often mortified at the prospect of having to discuss intimate or personal details with their employees and usually adopt the “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach. However, not only can a workplace romance impact on other employees, if such relationships sour, they can develop into bullying and sexual harassment claims, leaving the business and human resource professionals left to pick up the pieces. It is thus important for employers to know how to effectively manage these situations and ensure reasonable measures are in place so the business is not adversely affected.

The Boss is Out – Let’s Chat: Mobile Phones in the Workplace

The mobile phone is now ubiquitous and almost everyone has one. Like parents with teenagers, who struggle to engage with their children who are constantly on the phone, how do employers ensure that employees are not placing themselves and the business in danger by using their mobile devices?

Many employers struggle with employees who use their mobile phones excessively during work hours or employees making excessive personal calls on their mobile phones while at work. Employers should also consider the safety implications of employees who are required to drive as part of their duties, and the use of mobile devises.

We Need to Talk – How to Handle Difficult Conversations in the Workplace

Most people love a chat. However, understandably, most managers and employers often avoid having difficult conversations with their employees because it can be awkward, confrontational and time consuming. Unfortunately, avoiding what needs to be said can grow into a major issue causing legal risks and reducing an employer’s ability to successfully defend legal claims should they arise.

What is a “Warning” Worth?

There is a common misconception amongst employers that the dismissal of a troublesome employee can only occur once the employer has followed the “three strikes and you’re out” rule – in other words, the employer must give the employee three official warnings before they can terminate the employment relationship. There is a broad management philosophy that three warnings prior to termination is best practice, and this may well be true, however, there is no legal requirement to provide a specified number of formal warnings. In this way, the notion of “three strikes” simply does not feature anywhere in Australia’s employment law landscape.


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