Nigerian Labour Act and Staff Discipline
Employee discipline resulting in termination or summary dismissal can be knotty and could cause employer huge legal losses and sometimes reputation in terms of public perception of the business. However, if done properly staff or employee discipline is justifiable and could be seen as an appropriate measure in maintaining the sanctity of the organization and in correcting behavioral deficiencies.
A good lesson for human resource management professionals was the widely reported case of Heliso Towers Nigeria versus Miss. Jenifer Adighije in which Justice Abaseki-Osahhae set aside a termination issued against the plaintiff and awarded her N 9.55 million against the organization.
THE STEP BY STEP GUIDELINE
STEP ONE EMPLOYEES HANDBOOK OR CONTRACT / LETTER OF EMPLOYMENT
Ensure that the employee is aware of the rules and regulations governing work processes and the organization in general. This should be contained in the employees handbook with a signature page showing that it has been read, understood and accepted by the employee. Where a handbook is not available the letter of employment should contain such details. This will help the employee understands what the organization considered as an acceptable workplace practice and what is not acceptable and the punishment for violation.
STEP TWO KEEP PROPER RECORD
The standard practice is to open a personal file for every employee and ensure that matters relating to the employee are documented including misdemeanors and act of indiscipline. It has been seen that the onus lies on the employer to justify the action taken against an employer in cases of litigation and one major defense has been the availability of record of action taken in time past to correct the employee.
STEP THREE TAKE MEASURE TO CORRECT BEHAVIORAL INADEQUACY
The primary objective of workplace discipline as earlier mentioned is to correct and not necessary to punish, hence, it is required that proper measure is put in place to ensure the disciplinary procedures conform to set a standard. This can be achieved through proper onboarding process, mentoring, and regular training using both internal and external resources.
STEP 4 ALIGN DISCIPLINE TO EXTENT LAW AND ACT OF MISCONDUCT.
Since the action of the organization can be challenged in the court of law as discriminatory, a violation of human right or grossly overbearing, it is important, then, that the companys penalty for misbehavior should align itself to the countrys law and accepted best practices. For instance, the case that was earlier cited fails to follow laid down process hence it was seen as a gross violation acceptable practice governing performance management and termination of employment.
STEP 5 ADOPT PROGRESSIVE DISCIPLINARY MEASURE
Except in exceptional cases of gross misconduct or when the act of indiscipline could cause serious damage and loss to the organization, it is the opinion of this writer that staff discipline should be progressive and aimed at behavioral modification and correction in staff attitude towards the organization.
Continue to: PROGRESSIVE EMPLOYEE DISCIPLINE
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