At some stage you may need to dismiss someone for unacceptable behaviour or conduct. To avoid complications later, such as a personal grievance, make sure you follow the right steps. Employment legislation does not set a specific dismissal disciplinary process that you must follow, but the dismissal decision and the process used must be fair and reasonable.

What you must do

  • Ensure you have dismissal provisions in your employment agreement that outline what processes you will follow if misconduct occurs and what behaviour will result in instant dismissal.
  • Have a good reason to dismiss someone and the disciplinary process must be carried out fairly.
  • Let your employee know what the problem is and that disciplinary action may be a possibility.
  • Inform them that they can choose to have a support person present at a disciplinary meeting for advice and support.
  • Investigate any allegations of misconduct thoroughly and impartially. Give your employee a genuine opportunity to give their side of the story before deciding what to do.
  • Treat all your employees in the same circumstance in the same way, or be able to justify why you treated them differently.
  • Deal with any problem in good faith. This means being open and honest.
  • If your employee is on a trial period you may give them notice of dismissal and they cannot take a personal grievance on the grounds of unjustified dismissal. They can raise a personal grievance on other grounds, such as discrimination, harassment or unjustified action.
  • If you do decide to dismiss the employee after a fair process, give them a reasonable amount of notice, unless it was serious misconduct. 

What you could do

  • Give the employee a written warning and allow them time to improve instead of dismissing them.
  • Take the time to get expert advice before you decide to dismiss an employee to ensure you are following the correct procedure.
  • Pay out your employee’s notice period and not require them to work it. Clearly explain this to your employee.
  • Provide a dismissed employee with a written statement of the reasons for dismissal up to 60 days after they are dismissed if they request one, unless they were on a trial period.