Dealing with conduct is part and parcel of managing a workforce. Whether you own a small business or a large one, conduct issues will more than likely arise. This means you need to ensure you know how to deal with these issues.
Particularly, where unforeseen circumstances arise which may disrupt usual business practices. During the coronavirus pandemic, it is more important than ever that employers become accustomed to dealing with these conduct issues. You need to be able to manage staff while they are working from home and when they are in the office.
Managing conduct during the pandemic
Where remote working is concerned, employees who are working from home should be treated the same as those who are in the office. This includes matters of conduct. The way conduct is handled with a remote worker will be similar to how it is handled with employees in the office. However, it can be difficult to police misconduct amongst remote workers. This makes figuring out how to deal with these issues equally as challenging.
The easiest way to manage misconduct in this situation will be to put extra methods in place to make sure there is no misconduct. For example, hold regular catch-up sessions with remote employees and encourage self-appraisals.
Levels of misconduct, either reported or observed, start at unsatisfactory or minor misconduct. This can include poor performance of a task or poor timekeeping. Not all instances of misconduct should be managed with a heavy hand. Keep in mind that not all employees can successfully work from home without it impacting their mental health. It is crucial, therefore, that employers first talk to employees suspected of misconduct. You should use this opportunity to gather information about why their behaviour may have changed. It may be that they require emotional support. You can provide this through an employee assistance programme or adjustment to their work schedule.
At times, there can be cases of gross misconduct. This is an action that is so serious it serves to damage the trust and confidence of the employment relationship. Gross misconduct can result in a dismissal for a first offence. Although, a proper disciplinary procedure should be followed in all cases.
Gross misconduct whilst a person is working from home can consist of a few things. Harassment via a messaging platform, such as Teams, may fall into this category. Putting a client’s personal information at risk by not following company data protection rules may also be gross misconduct.
When employees are working in the office, it may be easier for conduct issues or behavioural changes to be detected. Misconduct, and gross misconduct, in the office can sometimes take the same form as that which can be practised by employees at home. However, homeworking brings up types of misconduct that office working would not. For example, an employee might not work because they are busy watching their favourite show on the television.
How to manage conduct
The following action steps can help employers manage conduct issues both remotely and in the office:
- Act quickly to establish the facts
- Carry out a thorough investigation
- Follow a fair disciplinary and/or grievance procedure
- Seek advice for legal clarity
- Decide on the appropriate consequence to the employee’s actions
Conduct is a potentially fair reason for dismissing an employee. However, employees with two years or more of continuous service have the right not to be unfairly dismissed by their employer. This is why a clear disciplinary procedure must be followed before any final decision is made to dismiss an employee for misconduct.
In all, employees must understand the expectations on them to maintain certain standards of behaviour. You can do this through a policy or handbook. This is crucial for the external reputation of a company and how it presents itself to its customers or clients. Also, employee misconduct can cause significant issues in overall company productivity and output if left unchecked.
If you need further support with conduct, in or out of the workplace, speak to one of our HR experts on 01455 858 132.
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