What are the various classifications of misconduct

 What are the various classifications of misconduct? What hierarchy needs to be followed while imposing a punishment

General (simple) misconduct

The first type, general (or simple) misconduct, involves behavior that doesn’t intend to harm others or the company. It usually does not require immediate termination of any employee. But it does mean that the employee’s immediate supervisor and HR need to document and carry out any disciplinary action to correct it. An example of general employee misconduct may be an employee who is chronically late to work or one who has made an off-color remark to a co-worker. Their actions are undesirable but not intentionally out to sabotage the company.

Additional examples of general misconduct may include:

  • Inaccurately reporting information on a job application – discovered after the employee has been hired
  • Not following the orders of a direct supervisor
  • Getting caught smoking in a non-smoking area of the property.

These are offenses, but they can be corrected and do not require termination on the spot. First-time issues may require nothing more than a written warning for employee misconduct and monitoring of the employee for a period of time. Or it may require more decisive action such as suspension.

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Gross misconduct

In the case of gross employee misconduct, an employee has acted in a way that warrants immediate termination — the legal term being “summarily dismissed”. This kind of behavior is egregious in nature, meant to cause the company and other co-workers harm.

Usually, the actions of the employee are enough to cause the company to have no choice but to terminate their employment and escort them off-premises immediately. This includes a first offense if it is severe. Employees may be fired with no notice, and their final pay may be withheld if it is due to financial or property damage to the company.

Very offensive actions such making verbal and physical threats of violence, bullying, sexual harassment, and stalking are examples of other forms of employee misconduct. All of these call for an immediate termination from your job. Several industries' organisations view intentional confidentiality violations as grave misconduct. Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol while working can result in automatic dismissal in places of employment with drug and alcohol policies.

It's crucial to remember that workplace misconduct can happen both physically and online on a remote team. An illustration of this may be a worker speaking negatively about the firm CEO while chatting on their camera and microphone during a virtual team meeting. A worker who writes a derogatory group email, such as the GoHealth employee who was fired,

Consider also that an employee may be intentionally violating the terms of their employment by maintaining a side-job with a competing firm or running a business that directly conflicts with their main employer.

How to address and handle employee misconduct

Never disregard an employee's wrongdoing. Ineffectively handling instances of employee misconduct can result in expensive lawsuits as well as lower staff morale. For instance, failing to give sufficient proof that it had fired an employee for breaking company policy resulted in a wrongful termination case in 2019 costing one corporation more than $1.1 million.

There are several things your organization can do to address and handle cases of employee misconduct effectively.

1. Get an effective disciplinary policy in place.

Your employees need to understand what the consequences for misconduct are.

Your disciplinary policy should explain disciplinary action for employee misconduct, what progressive steps will be taken in the process and what the grounds for immediate termination are. Be sure that your employees are aware of this and sign off on this in the employment agreement. Also, make this policy easily accessible, for instance, by including it in your employee handbook or company wiki.

2. Outline a process for reporting employee misconduct.

Indicate how employees can report a misconduct incident and to whom? Can they do it anonymously? It’s essential to protect all parties involved in a complaint, whether in the reporting phase or the investigation process.

In some workplaces, the difference between individuals who have seen misconduct or unethical behaviour and those who report it approaches 30%. Workers may worry about reprisal and think that the company won't do anything. It is crucial that your team members comprehend how they may safely report instances of employee misconduct and how your business will handle these reports.

3. Investigate any and all claims of employee misconduct.

It’s your responsibility to ensure nothing is left out. Define how you are going to investigate misconduct, who is going to be involved, who will be interviewed or observed, and other aspects of the investigation plan.

Bear in mind that your employee misconduct investigation and handling process needs to be in line with the local legislation.

4. Gather information and document everything related to the incident.

To investigate employee wrongdoing and effectively address it, you'll need this information. Keep a record of the precise dates, times, locations, and discussions surrounding the employee misconduct occurrence. If your employee decides to file a lawsuit, you must be able to defend your case with the evidence from your inquiry. Moreover, OSHA mandates complete documentation in cases of safety misconduct.

5. Respond quickly, but methodically, to employee wrongdoing.

To ensure the safety and security of the workplace, you must respond swiftly to take control of the situation if employee misconduct occurs there. Be cautious and take initiative. Also, doing so might help you avoid reprisals or other bad behaviour.


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