Disciplinary Procedure in the 21st Century: Discover When and How an Employer May Only Discipline Employees
From the moment they start working for the employer, the employee is obliged to comply with the rights and obligations established by the Labor Law, the general acts, and the employment contract. Primarily, the employee is obliged to conscientiously and responsibly perform the tasks he is working on and to respect the employer’s work organization.
However, what if the employee does not follow these rules?
In the event that the employee does not act in accordance with the stated rules, he will be disciplinary liable to the employer for violating work obligations and/or work discipline. This means that the employer, after the disciplinary procedure has been carried out, will be able to impose some of the disciplinary measures prescribed by the Labor Law on the employee.
In the rest of the article, we will reveal to you what this really means in practice, i.e. in which cases the employer can conduct a disciplinary procedure, what that procedure should look like, and what disciplinary measures the employer has available.
In which cases can the employer initiate disciplinary proceedings against the employee?
The Labor Law contains a special section that specifies the reasons for which an employer can terminate an employee’s employment contract. Specifically, they are:
- Justifiable reason related to the employee’s ability to work and his behavior;
- Faulty breach of work obligation;
- Failure to respect work discipline;
- Justifiable reason related to the needs of the employer (technological redundancy and rejection of the offered annex to the employment contract).
However, in the first and fourth cases the employer does not conduct disciplinary proceedings, but terminates the employment contract on other grounds (deficiencies in work, redundancy, offer of an annex to the employment contract).
Disciplinary proceedings are conducted in the second and third cases, that is, in the case of faulty violation of work obligations and non-compliance with work discipline – precisely in order to determine whether there was faulty behavior of the employee.
Thus, the employee will be disciplinary responsible if they commit a violation of the work obligation through his/her own fault, namely:
- If he negligently or carelessly performs his work duties;
- If he abuses his position or exceeds his authority;
- If he uses labor resources inappropriately and irresponsibly;
- If he does not use or does not use the provided means or equipment for personal protection at work;
- If he commits another violation of the work obligation determined by the general act, that is, the employment contract.
Also, the employee will be disciplinary responsible when he does not respect work discipline, specifically:
- If he unjustifiably refuses to perform tasks and carry out the orders of the employer in accordance with the law;
- If he does not submit a certificate of temporary incapacity for work;
- If he abuses the right to leave due to temporary inability to work;
- Due to coming to work under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants, that is, the use of alcohol or other intoxicants during working hours, which has or may have an impact on the performance of work;
- If he provided incorrect information that was decisive for establishing an employment relationship;
- If an employee who works in jobs with increased risk, in which a special health condition has been established as a special condition for work, refuses to undergo a health condition assessment;
- If he does not respect the work discipline prescribed by the employer’s act, that is, if his behavior is such that he cannot continue working for the employer.
Despite the fact that it has more closely determined the work obligations and the rules of work discipline that the employee must respect, the Labor Law leaves room for the employer to prescribe other work obligations, i.e. rules of work discipline, for the non-compliance of which he can impose disciplinary measures.
In any case, in order to establish that there really is disciplinary responsibility of the employee, the employer must prove:
- That there is an established work obligation, that is, a rule of work discipline prescribed by a general act or employment contract;
- That there was a violation of the prescribed work obligation or work discipline rules;
- That the injury is a consequence of the faulty behavior of the employee.
What disciplinary measures can an employer impose on an employee?
Failure to comply with work obligations, i.e. work discipline, is, first of all, one of the prescribed reasons for termination of the employment contract by the employer. However, the Labor Law additionally stipulates that if the employer considers that there are mitigating circumstances, or that the violation of work obligations, i.e. non-compliance with work discipline, is not of such a nature that the employee’s employment relationship should be terminated, he may impose one of the following measures on the employee:
- Temporary removal from work without pay, for a duration of one to 15 working days;
- A fine in the amount of up to 20% of the employee’s basic salary for the month in which the fine was imposed, for a duration of up to three months, which is enforced by suspension of wages, based on the employer’s decision on the imposed measure;
- A notice with a notice of dismissal stating that the employer will terminate the employee’s employment contract without further warning, if he commits the same violation of work obligations or non-compliance with work discipline within the next six months.
What does a disciplinary procedure look like?
Disciplinary procedure in our positive law is regulated in detail only by the law regulating labor relations in state bodies, while the Labor Law has no special provisions on disciplinary procedure.
The Labor Law has only to a lesser extent regulated the procedure that precedes the imposition of a disciplinary measure due to a violation of work obligations or work discipline. According to those provisions, the employer is obliged to warn the employee in writing of the reason for the termination of the employment contract and to give him a period of at least 8 days (from the day of delivery warnings) to declare it.
Therefore, the practice is that the disciplinary procedure is more closely regulated by the employer’s general acts.
P.S. Bearing in mind the legal gaps that exist in the matter of the disciplinary procedure, we advise you to contact an expert in labor law matters who will help you to regulate this procedure with your own legal acts – completely and in accordance with the Labor Law.
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