What constitutes misconduct?

Dec 14, 2016

There is no complete or definitive list of types of misconduct that employees can commit at the workplace. Types of misconduct may also differ from company to company as what may be considered as misconduct in one company, may not necessarily be misconduct in another. It depends on the type of industry that the company is operating in, the company’s culture and specific workplace rules and regulations.
The following list shows 16 of the more common offences committed in the workplace:

  • Theft;
  • Unauthorised possession of company goods;
  • Fraud;
  • Bribery;
  • Clock card fraud;
  • Threatening conduct;
  • Intimidation;
  • Sleeping on duty;
  • Fighting at work;
  • Assault;
  • Wilful or negligent damage of company property;
  • Deserting post or work station without permission;
  • Unauthorised possession or consumption of liquor or drugs while on duty;
  • Wilful poor performance;
  • Sabotage; and
  • Sexual or racial harassment.

The above are common forms of misconduct, also referred to as offences, misdemeanours or transgressions.
Is there a way to regulate offences that constitute misconduct?
Yes, misconduct can be regulated with a disciplinary code. In every case of misconduct there needs to be a rule, norm, standard, policy or practice in place. An employee, either by an action or by failing to act, breaks this.
So a disciplinary code is the framework that stipulates how  employees must conduct themselves and behave at work or face disciplinary action.
While  employees have a right to be not treated unfairly or be dismissed unfairly, on the other hand, employers have a right to expect acceptable conduct and satisfactory performance by employees.
Misconduct can become a serious problem if it is not managed properly and fairly. A disciplinary code must outline the offences that constitute misconduct and reflect the guidelines for managing misconduct in the workplace.
In our next article we shall look at formulating misconduct for a disciplinary enquiry.


Wallace Albertyn

Wallace Albertyn is a Senior Associate and Legal Advisor at LabourMan Consultants.

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