By: Jay Mittelman
Having a policy in your employee handbook which deals with misconduct — and lists examples of misconduct — requires caution, sensitivity and careful wording. Professional HR services can aid you in developing this wording.
If you’ve decided it’s important to tell your employees certain acts and behaviors are not welcome in your workplace, then you need to put your policy in writing. This is the only way to both protect yourself and prevent an HR incident from occurring.
Once you’ve decided written policies are needed, you have to deal with these questions: What are our misconduct and discipline rules? Do we spell out examples of misconduct in a list? Every word in the employee handbook counts towards giving a clear answer.
A list of misconduct examples is a PITFALL for you, if you don’t include some disclaimers and qualifying statements. This is because, if you don’t include such language in your policy, an employee can argue wrongful termination if you discharge the employee in a manner or for a cause not explicitly stated in your policy. The statements listed below protect your “employment-at-will” rights.
1. You'll need an introductory statement, something like this:
“There is no effective method of predetermining the seriousness or effect of any one violation of employer policy or of making an exhaustive list of all possible violations of policy. However, the following examples of misconduct are listed for the guidance of all employees.”
2. You'll need a qualifying statement, something like this:
“This list is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all prohibited activity, only a list of examples of conduct which may result in discipline. THIS LIST IS NOT ALL-INCLUSIVE.”
3. You'll need a disclaimer, something like this:
“Although some violations may be more severe than other violations, repeat violations, or a combination of violations, may result in termination of employment. The employer reserves the right to take any disciplinary action, including suspension or termination, in all cases it deems appropriate. If an employee engages in behavior which the employer considers detrimental to the interests of the employer, or threatens the well-being of other employees or patrons, the employer may terminate the employee immediately.”
Start by sitting down with your management staff and supervisors. We definitely recommend bringing in your HR department or whoever manages your HR software. Come up with a list of the most common kinds of misconduct you’ve experienced. Then consider these common examples of workplace misconduct:
End your list with a qualifying statement, something like this: “These examples of misconduct are not all-inclusive. Your employer expects employees to behave in a manner which is at all times in the best interests of the employer and all employees”.