Disciplinary v Performance – what to do?

Disciplinary v Performance – what to do?

It’s common for employers to get unstuck on how to tackle performance issues and disciplinary issues – it’s no easy feat!

Whilst I always encourage employers to seek advice from an employment relations specialist or their human resources consultant this blog will give you some crucial information so you can work in the right direction.


What is a disciplinary issue?
Typically disciplinary issues are behavioural concerns/ actions that occur in the workplace. Often they go against company rules & values and can even breach the employee’s contractual obligations under their employment agreement – sometimes deliberately.


What’s a common example of a disciplinary issue?
There are many types of disciplinary issues that span the spectrum of minor and serious. For example, minor issues (misconduct) can include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • lateness
  • absence
  • poor timekeeping
  • wasting time/ materials
  • continued poor performance
  • swearing


More serious issues (serious misconduct) can include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • bullying &/or harassment
  • racism
  • unauthorised absence
  • bringing the company into disrepute
  • gross negligence
  • falsification of company property/information
  • misappropriation of company property
  • damage to property/equipment
  • threatening and intimidation
  • breaches to health and safety

Typically, issues that are serious misconduct can destroy the trust and confidence in an employment relationship, which the Employment Relations Authority and the Employment Court deem as integral to have a positive and productive relationship. Misconduct issues can be frustrating but typically don’t have to end the relationship.

How do I manage these issues?
It depends on the specific issue, how serious it is and what other relevant background information there is. In saying that, if you have a concern that you cannot resolve informally and you feel that disciplinary action might be needed (for example, suspension, issuing a warning, or possible dismissal to name a few) you must provide the employee with all relevant information, an opportunity to comment and allow yourself time to reflect before deciding on any course of action.

What is a performance issue?
A performance issue is where an employee is not performing their job to the level you expect of them. This might be a result of not having adequate training/ induction into their role or it could be because they don’t have the right skills or experience.

Common examples of performance issues:
Performance issues are varied and relevant to the industry. Some common issues are:

  • incomplete work
  • not meeting deadlines
  • not meeting targets
  • mistakes in work


How do I manage these issues?
Performance Management should start off in a gentle manner. You must try first to improve the employee’s output which will require a balance of informing them of what you need, giving them a reasonable timeframe to improve and supporting their growth. It should be a documented process with a positive focus.

What else?
Just like your finances and marketing, you should have a strategy when dealing with your employment relations / human resources issues. This blog only scratches the surface, so if you’re frustrated with an employee and unsure how to manage it you should call today.