Change in orientation or behavioral pattern could take time to achieve in human beings, hence, with regard to workplace discipline, it has been advocated that for an offense of the first instance it is better to call the attention of the staff and counsel him or her. It should be noted that the offense leading to the counseling and advice given should be documented and signed by the staff.


For a repeated offense and depending on the gravity even when it happens the first time, a query is advised to be issued an appropriate response time for a reply from the offending staff should be stated in the memo. A query may be issued by line manager, staff immediate supervisor. However, it is highly recommended that such role should be given to the Human Resources specialists because of the need for proper wordings of the memo.
One common error by the organization is the failure to respond to staff query once they are received, it should be noted that best practice demands that you should reply to what the staff has stated as his or her reasons for what he or she did. A reply should go to staff either absolving him or her or holding him responsible for the act.
A warning can be done verbally or in writing, whichever is adopted, there should be a documented proof in the employee file with name, date and time stated therein. It is sometimes required that a staff representative is called in as a witness of the measure taken.
If the staff is found culpable and could be tolerated a warning letter should be issued detailing the consequences that will follow a repetition of such activities in the future.


It has been established that it is within the discretion of the employer to impose an appropriate penalty for infringement or violation of the companys rules and regulation. Such penalties could range from deprivation of a worker wage by being suspended from work for a period of times and sometimes it could be outright termination or dismissal from employment of the organization.
This position was further supported by the Hon. Justice (Chief) P.A. Atilade, President of National Industrial Court, in his judgment, when he ruled that The deprivation of a worker wages by suspension does not offend sections of the Labour Act and, therefore, is not a criminal offence for which the employer is liable to punishment under section 20 of the Act.
As earlier pointed out, it should be noted that an employee could challenge the decision of an employer in the court of law; hence, we strongly recommend that fairness, equity, and justice should be the watchwords in imposing a penalty. Also, proper record keeping showing all the necessary measures taken by the employer at ensuring that the employee makes necessary adjustment must be kept.


Every organization requires order, appropriate behavior, workplace etiquette and high level of worker discipline to achieve the pursuit of its corporate vision and mission statement. One of the instruments available to the organization to achieve its objectives is staff discipline, written and designed to correct behavioral deficiencies and punishing a deliberate and intentional act of violation of laid down rules and regulations.
Staff discipline besides punishing erring employee also serves as a deterrent to other staff from committing the same offense and could help the erring staff follow the path of good behavior.
To achieve its objectives, staff or workplace discipline must not contrive national laws; and it must be seen to be just and equitable with the primary aim of effecting correction as against being punitive.
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