Discipline process

Discipline is a funny word, it can be used with both positive and negative connotations!

People are always telling me how disciplined I am, with my 5:30 wake ups to run or hit the gym. Little do they know how hard it used to be to get out of my warm bed and burn calories / build muscle while it was still dark outside, but it was what I needed to do to be able to achieve my goal of getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight, feel comfortable in my clothes and keep up with my two little, very active girls!

It’s a good discipline, built up over time. Now I’m awake before my alarm even goes off!

And if you have that kind of discipline, you shouldn’t need to be disciplined!

The less positive definition of discipline is:

A method for dealing with a worker who causes problems or does not obey company rules, for example, by removing them from their job’  Cambridge Dictionary

The first thing that you need to ensure before you commence a disciplinary process, is to ensure that you have a policy and that your team are fully aware of it.

Then you need to follow the steps as laid out in your policy, generally all disciplinary policies comprise of the following steps:

  • Informal Conversation
  • Investigation
  • Disciplinary Meeting
  • Outcome
  • Appeal

Informal Conversation

Generally, unless the matter of discipline is super serious, you would start the process by having an informal chat with the individual – the PIP process that we discussed last week, would be considered the informal part, so you would go straight into the disciplinary meeting from a PIP.


You should have an investigation officer who is not linked to the case to investigate the case, review documents, speak to any witnesses and the individual involved. They should then produce a report on the case and make recommendations for the outcome (they could also come to the conclusion that no case needs to the heard).

Disciplinary Hearing

The disciplinary hearing should be chaired by a Manager not involved with the case, with support from HR if possible.

The Investigation officer should present the case and their findings and then the individual and their representative (if they have one), may ask questions or present evidence or mitigation. Witnesses may also be called.

At the end of the meeting, it may be adjourned for an outcome to be reached or an outcome can to communicated at a later date (generally within 5 working days)


At the end of the disciplinary process there are five possible outcomes:

No action – The case is not upheld.

Written warning – This is generally left on the individuals file for 6 months, and any infraction within that period could lead to further disciplinary action.

Final warning - This is generally left on the individuals file for 12 months, and any infraction within that period could lead to further action, including dismissal.

Demotion – A reduction in role and remuneration, generally the outcome if an individual isn’t performing effectively in their post.

Dismissal – This is the final sanction from a disciplinary process, either after a series of infractions or following an infraction considered Gross Misconduct.


Everyone has a right to appeal the decision on their disciplinary hearing. They could appeal it based on the outcome, the sanction or the process.

Next week we will be looking at dismissal’s and how to ensure you are being legislatively compliant.

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