Employee Discipline

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Everything you need to know about employee discipline. Discipline is the backbone of any organisation.

Employee discipline helps achieve desired goals/objectives. It includes putting things in order ensures conforming to rules and regulations, facilitates control and coordination, counters chaos, confusions and disorder.

According to Dr. Spreigel “Discipline is the force that prompts an individual or group to observe rules, regulations and procedures necessary to attain an objective.

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It is the force or fear that restrains individuals or groups from doing things that are deemed destructive to group objectives. It also involves enforcement of penalties for the violation of group regulations.”

Learn about:-

1. Introduction to Employee Discipline 2. Meaning and Definitions of Employee Discipline 3. Concept 4. Importance 5. Principles 6. Objectives 7. Types 8. Approaches 9. Procedure. 10. Maintaining Discipline

11. Preventive Measures 12. Guidelines for Creating a Climate for Discipline 13. Guidelines in Administering Discipline 14. Employee Discipline in Civil Services 15. Employee Discipline Management 16. Indiscipline in Employees.


Employee Discipline: Meaning, Definitions, Objectives, Procedure, Guidelines and Other Details

Employee Discipline – Introduction

To avoid conflict and law suits, managers must administer discipline properly. This entails ensuring that disciplined employees receive due process. Due process is based on the notion, that employees have the right to be fairly treated, particularly when being disciplined effective discipline again, should be aimed at the behaviour, not at the employee personally, because the reason for discipline is to improve performance.

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In a wider perspective, discipline means orderly and systematic behaviour. Organizations in order to achieve operational efficiency frame certain codes of behaviour, contracts or statutes, norms for their employees to ensure productivity and organizational efficiency.

The establishment of disciplinary activities is not only limited with formulation and establishment of these rules and standards, it also extends in the form of communicating these rules and standards to all employees and using the same for assessing the behaviour and performance of the employees engaged in the organization. Any deviation from these desired behaviours leads to disciplinary actions or interventions.

Some of the factors lending weight to effective disciplinary procedures in an organisation may be listed thus:

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1. Employees should be aware of rules and performance criteria and the consequences of violating them

2. Documentation of facts and evidence be made to justify any disciplinary action. The evidences should be carefully documented, so that no one can find fault with the process followed

3. Consistent response to rules violations-Employee should believe discipline is administered consistently and without discrimination or favouritism.

4. Disciplinary Training to supervisors – Training supervisors and managers should be trained as to how and when discipline should be used

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5. Prompt action for discipline – Immediate action is effective discipline. The longer the time that transpires between the offence and action the less effective discipline will be

6. Effective discipline is handled impersonally, by focusing on behaviour not on the person. The object should be correct undesirable- behaviours and not merely punishing the delinquent employee

7. Reasonable penalty – Discipline should be progressive. Beginning with an oral warning and then written warning, suspension followed by dismissal in most serious cases

8. Appraisal of rules at regular intervals to ensure that they are in tune with the times continual infractions may require a different type of discipline from that applied to isolated instances of misconduct.

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Employee discipline and documentation are two concepts that go hand- in-hand. In fact, it’s kind of a chicken and the egg scenario — which comes first? To discipline an employee, supervisors should have well-prepared documentation to back up any such employment action decision. But to have good documentation, supervisors need a well-crafted disciplinary policy to enforce.

Some of the most common problems at work that require discipline include dress code violations, poor attendance, and inappropriate or offensive behavior, such as harassment or discrimination. Human resources professionals should at least develop a plan for how to address on the front-end the most common disciplinary infractions.

Employment lawyers agree that more cases are won and lost bet because of documentation than any other factor. Why? Because juries like to have something to hang their hats on when making decisions. For example, an employee who is fired for coming in late every day for three months might win her lawsuit if the supervisor never documented the fact that she was late and gave her satisfactory ratings for punctuality on her performance evaluation.

1. Employee Discipline Basics:

The first step to keeping employee discipline problems to a minimum is making sure that the ground rules are clearly communicated to employees. In addition to a clearly communicated disciplinary policy, employers should have a prohibition against discrimination and harassment in their workplaces, as those policies are the bedrock of any internal investigation.

The employee discipline policy must be communicated to employees by periodically providing a copy to each employee, posting it, or including it in an employee handbook. Employees should be required to sign an acknowledgment that they have received and read the policy. The policy also should be covered in new employee orientation.

2. Employee Disciplinary Systems:

There are many systems available for disciplining employees. One system, called progressive discipline, is very popular in the labor union context. It requires the employer to progress through each step before proceeding to the next. This can be very limiting. Frequently, the facts and circumstances of a situation warrant a different type of discipline.

It is better for employers to craft a system that ensures managers and supervisors have the flexibility to administer verbal warnings, suspensions, or terminations based on the seriousness of the particular incident in question, regardless of the employee’s prior disciplinary history.


Employee Discipline – Meaning and Definitions

In the words of P. H. Cassleman, industrial discipline is “a general term designating established policy and action taken to encourage or to compel employees to observe certain rules and regulations of the employer.”

According to Earl R. Bramblett, “Discipline in the broad sense means orderliness—the opposite of confusion. It is a fundamental requirement for the people working in a plant as it is for other segments of society…. Shop discipline, as we use the term, does not mean strict and technical observance of rigid rules and regulations. It simply means working, cooperating, and behaving in a normal and orderly way, as any reasonable person would expect an employee to do.”

Briefly speaking, industrial discipline implies observance of rules and regulations; orderly behaviour on the part of employees in day-to-day activities; cooperating with the management and co-workers in achieving the organisation’s objectives; performing assigned duties and discharging responsibilities in a smooth manner and avoiding acts or omissions tending to incriminate management or to offend others in the organisation.

Industrial discipline has been interpreted broadly from two points of view. First, there has traditionally been a negative approach under which managers have considered discipline only as punishment. They expect orderly behaviour of the subordinates under the threat of punishment, which often culminates in severe action against the erring employees. Thus, they enforce discipline—”partly as deterrent and partly as retributive justice.”

Another approach, which increasingly replaced the traditional approach of viewing discipline as punishment, lays emphasis on such positive aspects as – (i) fostering mutual understanding of the various roles, (ii) ensuring fairness in treatment, (iii) adoption of consistent and sound principles of human relations, (iv) clarity of rules and regulations and employees’ awareness about them, (v) associating employees in the formulation of rules and (vi) general acceptability of the rules by the employees.

“A proper plan of industrial discipline emphasises the elimination of causes of infractions rather than punishment meted out to transgressors.”

The maintenance of harmonious relations within an industry depends on the extent of promotion and maintenance of discipline in the organizations. No organizations can grow and prosper without effective disciplinary system.

Some common disciplinary issues caused by problem employees include absenteeism, tardiness, productivity deficiencies, pilfering, alcoholism, insubordination, misuse of equipments and other company resources, and negligence. The goal of discipline is behaviour modification, that is, to modify unacceptable behaviour and misconduct.

Definitions

Discipline is the backbone of any organisation. It helps achieve desired goals/objectives. It includes putting things in order ensures conforming to rules and regulations, facilitates control and coordination, counters chaos, confusions and disorder.

According to Dr. Spreigel “Discipline is the force that prompts an individual or group to observe rules, regulations and procedures necessary to attain an objective. It is the force or fear that restrains individuals or groups from doing things that are deemed destructive to group objectives. It also involves enforcement of penalties for the violation of group regulations.”

Discipline can be categorised into two categories:

(i) Positive or self-imposed discipline.

(ii) Negative or enforced discipline.

(i) Positive Discipline – It stems from self-control, gracefully and willfully. It leads to team spirit, mutual respect, respect of peers and subordinates and appreciation of others, work. Therefore, appreciation, rewards, honours, pay rise, etc. should so developed as to encourage positive discipline.

(ii) Negative Discipline – It refers to those actions when workers are forced to obey rules and regulations or else face penalties. It is also termed as punitive, corrective, enforced or autocratic discipline. It should be used only when all other efforts fail.


Employee Discipline – Concept

The term discipline means a condition in the organization when employees conduct themselves in accordance with the organization’s rules and standards of acceptable behavior. For the most part, employees discipline themselves and conform with proper behavior because they believe it is the right thing to do.

The employees once awarded of expected behavior, they find these standards or rules to be reasonable and they seek to meet those expectations. Discipline also means orderliness. In the military circle, the term discipline is synonymous with regimentation. In the industrial context, it means working and behaving in a normal and orderly way, as any reasonable person expects an employee to do. It is as much a basic necessity for the people working in a plant as in other segments of society.

According to Richard D. Calhoon, “Discipline is the force that prompts individuals or groups to observe rules, regulations, standards and procedures deemed necessary for an organisation.” Thus, discipline means securing consistent behaviour in accordance with the accepted norms of behaviour. Discipline is essential to a democratic way of life and equally essential of industrial organisations.

Employee indiscipline is both the cause and effect of the state of industrial relations. The term ‘indiscipline’ can be described as non-conformity to formal and informal rules and regulations. It is necessary to correct indiscipline in an organization as soon as it is observed because of its adverse influence on the morale and motivation of the employees as well as the organization.

Indiscipline results in chaos, confusion and diffusion of results. It gives rise to strikes, ‘go-slows’, and absenteeism, leading to loss of production, profits and wages. Other indications of indiscipline in an organization may be the high rates of absenteeism, labor turnover, accidents and sickness, low and faulty turnover, increasing wastage, low motivation and morale of work-force and greater number of interruptions and conflicts.

Indiscipline may arise due to poor management, errors of judgment by employees about their union leaders or a lack of understanding of management policy, lack of commitment to work by employees in an organization. Various factors, such as unfair labor practices, victimization by management, wage differentials, wrong work assignments, defective grievance procedure, payment of very low wages, poor communication, and ineffective leadership result in indiscipline.

Thus, various socio-economic and cultural factors play a role in creating indiscipline in an organization.

The positive approach to discipline i.e. ‘self-discipline’ assumes that most employees generally behave reasonably. Counseling and educating the employees are additional means to check indiscipline effectively and positively.

There would be very little scope for the development and growth of grievances if the management adopts strategies like job-enrichment to develop commitment to work, sets up effective grievance handling machinery, evolve proper induction and training programs for new entrants and develop employee potential.

Self-discipline approach requires certain essential prerequisites to manage indiscipline are:

i. Responsible, legitimate and clear rules and regulations,

ii. Workers should be involved in framing rules and regulations so that they willingly accept the rules,

iii. Prior notice of the consequences of breaking rules,

iv. Respect for the human personality,

v. Management personnel should set high standards.


Employee Discipline – Importance

Discipline is essential for the smooth running of an organisation and for the maintenance of industrial peace which is the very foundation of industrial democracy. Without discipline, no enterprise would prosper. In order to ensure that discipline is properly maintained, it is essential to have supervisors who have the requisite skills and leadership qualities.

Some supervisors are so clever that they develop among their subordinates a willingness to conform to the rules and regulations of the organisation; and this is done in such a way that the subordinates themselves do not feel that authority is being imposed upon them by their superiors to maintain discipline. On the other hand, there are supervisors who can function only by holding out threats to their subordinates; they rule by fear.

There are yet others who cannot enforce any obedience of their orders; with them, employees behave as they please, and violate whatever rules they feel they should violate.

The success of any rules of discipline depends on the – existence of a high degree of co-operation between the employers and the employee; on faith and belief in one another’s motives; on the fulfillment of mutual obligations; on the management’s enlightened attitude toward its employees and its overall efficiency; and on the good sense of the workers’ trade unions.

Mooney has observed- “When the employees and the boss are bound by the same common understanding of some common purpose, discipline is on a plane which no other form can reach.”


Employee Discipline – Principles to be Observed in the Maintenance of Discipline

Disciplinary measures have serious repercussions on the employees and they must be based on certain principles in order to be just, fair and acceptable to the employees and the union.

The most important principles to be observed in the maintenance of discipline are outlined by Yoder, Heneman, Turnbull and Harold Stone:

1. So far as possible all rules should be developed in cooperation and collaboration with representatives of employees. If they have a hand in formulating the rules, they will be much more likely to observe them.

2. All rules should be appraised at frequent and regular intervals to be sure that they are and remain appropriate, sensible and useful.

3. Rules should vary with changes in working conditions. The rules for office workers, for instance, may well vary from those affecting employees in an industrial concern.

4. Rules must be uniformly enforced if they are to be effective. They must be applied without favouritism or exceptions.

5. Penalties for violations should be stated in advance, as should procedures for enforcement. Employees have a right to know what to expect. To that end, both rules and procedures may well be published in employee’s handbooks.

6. Disciplinary policy should have, as its objective, the prevention of infractions rather than the simple administration of penalties, however just. It should be preventive rather than punitive.

7. Extreme care must be taken to ensure that infringements are not encouraged. It should be done as a matter of policy.

8. If violations of any particular rule are numerous, the circumstances surrounding the infractions should be carefully studied to discover the source of difficulty.

9. Recidivism must be expected. Certain offenders would almost certainly violate rules more often than others. These problem cases may require extensive consideration and attention.

10. Definite and precise provision for appeal and review of all disciplinary action should be expressly provided in the employee handbook, collective agreement, or otherwise.

Some Other Principles:

i. Discipline is directly related with emotional feelings of an individual. Therefore, utmost care must be taken in enforcing discipline.

ii. It should be enforced/laid down in consultation with representatives of the employees.

iii. Be appraised frequently to be effective and relevant.

iv. Dynamic in nature i.e., to change with changed working conditions.

v. Should be positive and penalties should be carefully used.

vi. Discipline committee consisting of representatives of workers and management should investigate cases of indiscipline.

vii. Causes of recurring indiscipline must be investigated.


Employee Discipline – Objectives

The following are the objectives of employee’s discipline:

i. To regulate the behaviour of employees thereby enabling them to comply with performance standards.

ii. To ensure the cooperation of employees in performing various tasks.

iii. To develop a spirit of tolerance among employees.

iv. To promote trust and confidence among employees and their superiors.

v. To ensure good human relations in the workplace.

vi. To entrust a responsibility to employees.

vii. To improve the morale of the employees.

viii. To foster industrial peace.

ix. To improve the performance efficiencies of employees.

Some Other Objectives:

Discipline is necessary for the smooth running of an organization, for the maintenance of industrial peace that is the very foundation of industrial democracy. Without discipline, no enterprise would prosper. The objective of discipline is to obtain a willing acceptance of rules and regulations of an organization in order to attain the organizational goals.

As a system of orderly conduct, modern industrial discipline has several benefits for the employer and the employee alike. It enhances efficiency and reduces costs. Absenteeism and employee turnover are minimized. Equipment is given better care and scrap losses decline. The employees gain a sense of security and safety.

They work without fear of unfair penalty for misconduct that they could not otherwise expect. Their self-respect and respect for the company is preserved.

Today, two different attitudes towards discipline are in action in organizations-the autocratic and democratic. Autocratic type of discipline is enforced by constant supervision by the superior and threats of punishment. The trouble with this type of discipline is that it does not take into account the desires of those commanded, it appeals only to the fear motives and no other positive motives and also requires constant supervision.

The democratic approach of discipline presumes orderly conduct of affairs by members of an organization who adhere to its regulations even if they desire a harmonious co-operation within the group and hope that their reasonable wishes are accorded recognition to be brought to reasonable union with the requirements of group in action.

Henry Fayol observes on managerial responsibility for discipline that “discipline is what the leaders make it” A manager who shirks this responsibility is failing in his duty to manage. In several cases, indiscipline results from the faulty attitudes and behavior of subordinates, the responsibility lies with the manager because of his power of influencing, controlling or eliminating their attitudes.

1. To obtain a willing acceptance of the rules, regulations and procedures of an organisation so that organisational goals may be attained;

2. To impart an element of certainty despite several differences in informal behaviour patterns and other related changes in an organisation;

3. To develop among the employees a spirit of tolerance and a desire to make adjustments;

4. To give and seek direction and responsibility;

5. To create an atmosphere of respect for the human personality and human relations; and

6. To increase the working efficiency and morale of the employees so that their productivity is stepped up, the cost of production brought down and the quality of production improved.


Employee Discipline – Types: Positive Discipline and Negative Discipline

Discipline involves engagement in behaviour according to prescribed mode. This behaviour is achieved either through rewarding the disciplined behaviour known as positive or punishing the indisciplined behaviour known as negative.

1. Positive Discipline:

Positive discipline, also known as preventive, determinative, or self- discipline, involves actions taken to encourage employees to follow rules and standards so that infractions do not occur. Prevention is best done by making organizational rules and standards known and understood. The objective is to encourage the employees to maintain self-discipline. In this way, the employees maintain their own discipline rather than have management imposed it.

Employees are likely to maintain self-discipline when:

i. Standards of behaviour are stated positively instead of negatively, and when they have been told the reasons behind such a standard so that it will make a sense to them;

ii. Standards of behaviour match with the required behaviour for job performance.

Self-discipline contributes immensely to the employees as well as to the organization in the form of higher morale, better human relations, cooperative behaviour, and mutual trust and respect.

2. Negative Discipline:

Negative discipline, also known as enforced, corrective, punitive or autocratic discipline, involves the use of external force or the threat of its use to restrain employees from engaging in behaviours which are contrary to rules and standards. Such behaviours are known as indiscipline which can be corrected by disciplinary actions.

These actions are in the form of some punishment inflicted on the erring employees. Generally, the type of punishment depends on the nature of indisciplined behaviour.

The objective of negative discipline is:

i. To reform the offender so that he changes his behaviour,

ii. To deter others from similar actions, and

iii. To maintain consistent, effective group behaviour.

However, the negative discipline, if followed continuously, becomes ineffective as employees will engage in behaviours that save them from punishment but such behaviours may not be productive enough.

Forms or Types of Discipline:

Discipline involves the conditioning or molding of the future behaviour of employees by the offer of rewards or penalties.

A disciplinary action is the means by which the various procedures, techniques and methodologies are used to bring this controlled state of affairs.

This disciplinary action may be self-imposed or positive or it may be enforced or negative.

Positive or self-imposed discipline refers to reward, appreciation, constructive support reinforcement of approved personnel actions and behaviour incentive payments or promotions to motivate employees to extend their cooperation to the management or work willingly effec­tively or competently.

It involves the creation of an attitude of mind and an organisational climate in which employees willingly conform to rules or regulations.

Positive discipline emphasises the concept of self-discipline and self-control and is also known as cooperation discipline or determinative discipline. Self-discipline when developed from within, leads to team-spirit mutual respect for established rules regulations or procedures respect for supervisors appreciation of company goals or policies, high- employee morale greater free down for development and for self- expressions and willingness to cooperation or coordinate.

Enforced or negative discipline, on the other hand, refers to the people who are forced or constrained to obey orders or to perform their takes in accordance with the rules or regulations that have been laid down, failing which they would have to suffer penalties.

The purpose of negative discipline is to scale others, to keep others in time and to ensure that they do not indulge in undesirable behaviour.

This negative discipline is also known as corrective or autocratic discipline, and is imposed upon persons who fail to observe the rules or regulations of the organisation to which they belong, who fail to carry out the orders of their bosses, who indulge in anti-organisational or anti­social activities, or who are negligent or don’t respond to positive motivational-techniques.

Categorizing Performance and Disciplinary Problems:

Performance and disciplinary problems can be categorized into four distinct types:

Type 1 Situations – where the employee’s quality and/or quantity of work is unsatisfactory.

Type 2 Situations – where personal problems, off the job, are influencing the employee’s work performance, e.g., alcoholism, drug abuse, financial or family problems.

Type 3 Situations – where there has been a deliberate violation of the law or established company rules or regulations, e.g., through theft, fighting, falsification of records, conflict of interest, harassment or safety infractions (for an example and an attempt to correct it).

Type 4 Situations – where there have been repeated minor violations of company rules, regulations, or performance problems that have not responded to non-disciplinary corrective action, e.g., minor safety infractions, incidental insubordination, uncorrected tardiness or continued poor quality workmanship.

A clear distinction has to be made between types 1 and 2 and types 3 and 4. The first two involve unsatisfactory work performance; the second two involve violations of rules, regulations, or the law, or behaviour that is organizationally unacceptable and known by the employee to be so.

Inputs—performance measurement, behavioural observation, complaints and incidents—provide a basis for determining the type of problem. Depending upon the input and the type of problem, a manager (ideally in concert with the union) would use very different strategies or corrective actions.

Analyzing Type 1 Situations – Performance Problems:

Performance evaluation provides the primary source of information on Type 1 problems. Not only is valid and reliable performance information important for determining whether a problem actually exists, it is also essential for finding solutions that avoid the adversarial of traditional punitive measures.

Behavioural observations, complaints, and incidents are other potential indicators of problems. Analysis of all of this information provides the basis for determining the cause of the problem. Once the cause is determined, potential solutions can then be developed. Poor performance originates either from management and organization- centred causes or from employee-centred causes.

A. Managerial and Organizational Shortcomings:

1. Lack of Effective Leadership:

Absence of effective leadership results in poor management in areas of direction, guidance, instructions etc. which in turn leads to employee indiscipline. Sometimes lack of interest of the top management also leads to this problem. In many cases the supervisors of the organization may not be even properly trained to understand and solve the problems of their subordinates in a proactive way, before problems actually creep up at the workplace.

2. Lack of Understanding of Roles and Expectation:

In many instances management fails to tell subordinates what their roles are and what is expected of them. Performance problems arise when the performance expectations of individual employees differ from those of the organization, or when, in the absence of clearly defined standards and objectives, the employee simply does not perform to management’s expectations, however poorly defined they might be.

3. In Appropriate Job Assignment:

Poor performance may occur when the organization makes a poor job assignment. This is more likely to occur in a growing organization, but it also occurs in more stable situations. The problem lies in promoting, transferring, or otherwise assigning an employee to a job to which he/she is not fitted because of a lack of training, personal skill, background, or experience.

4. Job Design:

In many instances poor performance arises because of the design of the job. Employees will be motivated to perform well in jobs that offer variety, a challenge, responsibility, and an opportunity for personal growth. In the absence of these characteristics, less than optimum performance can be expected.

5. Unfair Management Practices:

Management sometimes indulges in unfair practices like wage discrimination, non-compliance with promotional policies and transfer policies, discrimination in allotment of work, defective handling of grievances, payment of low wages, delay in payment of wages, creating low QWL etc.

6. Communication Barriers:

Communication barriers along with absence of upward communication, lack of humane and understanding approach on the par of superiors result in frustration and leads to indiscipline.

7. Non-Uniform Disciplinary Actions:

Management has to treat all cases of indiscipline in a fair and equitable way. But management may undertake disciplinary actions in a discriminating way, leading to violent protests from various quarters.

8. Divide and Rule Policy:

Many managers may often divide the employees into employee groups, get the information from different groups about others and encourage the spying activity.

9. Inadequate attention to personnel problems and delay in solving personnel problems also creates frustration among individual workers.

B. Employee-Centred Causes:

The most common employee-centred causes are the following:

1. Lack of Interest:

Obviously, if an employee is to perform properly, he/she must be interested in the type of work that needs to be done.

2. Personality:

An employee’s personality may be a major cause of poor performance. Because personality traits are often very difficult to change, it may be necessary to assign the individual to a position more in keeping with his/her personality.

3. Limited Capabilities:

All employees are limited in their capabilities to carry out certain organizationally required functions, and problems will arise when they are required to perform tasks that are beyond their capabilities.

4. Victimization and excessive pressures on the work also may lead to grievance and dissatisfaction at the workplace.

Dealing with Type 2 Situations- Personal Problems:

Most personal problems arise for two reasons:

i. Health and Stress Problems:

The levels of stress associated with working in the modern organization can severely affect a person’s health and lead to personal problems such as alcoholism and absenteeism.

ii. Family and Personal Problems:

Family and personal problems are major outside sources of unsatisfactory performance. Almost everyone has family or personal troubles that affect their work performance at some time during their care. Employees have parents, children, or brothers and sisters who face various crises, such as sickness or death. Similarly, there are personal problems related to finances, life-style and relationships that will be significant enough to affect an employee’s commitment and motivation.

Employee Assistance:

In many cases, the employee’s problem can be corrected or alleviated only with professional help. Many companies and unions deal with personal problems using employee assistance programs (EAPs) that operate confidentially and refer employees to professional social workers, counselors or trained coordinators.

Taking Disciplinary Action in Type 3 Situations:

For dealing with performance and personal issues and collaboration between labour and management in type 1 and type 2 situations, management will be required to take some disciplinary action in some type 3 situations. The reasons will usually be similar to those that would lead to criminal or civil action in society.

Some of the prominent causes are:

i. Theft of property belonging to the company, fellow employees, suppliers or customers, falsification of documents essential to the company’s operation,

ii. Sexual or other forms of harassment,

iii. Willful violation of company rules and regulations concerning safety, operating methods, procedures and so on,

iv. Willful and malicious destruction of property belonging to the company, fellow employees, suppliers, or customers.

In each of these type 3 situations, the test of whether discipline is justified is whether:

i. The employee deliberately carried out the act,

ii. The employee knew or should have known that what he or she was doing was wrong,

iii. The rule or regulation was reasonable, and

iv. The discipline that is contemplated is appropriate to the seriousness of the offence.

Taking Disciplinary Action in Type 4 Situations:

Type 4 problems are the most difficult to analyze and deal with, because they arise out of type 1, 2 and 3 problems.

Type 4 problems are:

1. Type 1 problems that have not responded to management taking all the appropriate and corrective action to try to solve the performance discrepancy. The employee has not been prepared to recognize his/her responsibility in solving the problem. Consequently, the quantity or quality of the work is still unsatisfactory.

2. Type 2 problems for which the employee has been provided with appropriate assistance and support to deal with a personal problem, but the personal problem still results in performance shortcomings.

3. Type 3 problems in which continued minor violations and infractions have led to a culminating incident, and, as a consequence, management is required to discipline the employee.


Employee Discipline – Approaches

The different approaches to discipline include- (i) human relations approach, (ii) human resources approach, (iii) group discipline approach, (iv) the leadership approach, and (v) the judicial approach.

Principles of Natural Justice Regarding Discipline:

The principles indicated by the Supreme Court for proceeding against a delinquent employee are known as the “Principles of a Natural Justice.”

These include:

(a) The delinquent employee must be indicated in unambiguous terms about the charge leveled against him.

(b) The delinquent employee must be given an opportunity for conducting his/her defense, i.e., by cross examination of the witnesses.

(c) The enquiry should be fair and the enquiry officer should be impartial.

(d) The evidence should be put forward in the presence of the employee charged.

(e) Punishment should be proportionate to the misconduct committed.

The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, (1946):

The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 requires the employees in ‘Industrial Establishments’ employing one hundred or more employees to define in precise terms, the conditions of employment under them. The States can extend the application of the enactment to the ‘establishments’ employing less than one hundred employees.

The ‘establishment’ covered by the Act can have their own standing orders certified by the State Labour Commissioner or an officer under him called ‘certifying officer.’ These standing orders, inter alia, define acts and omissions which amount to misconduct, are required to be in conformity with the Model Standing Orders framed by the respective State Governments. Until an employer gets his own standing orders certified, the establishment stands governed by the Model Standing Orders.

Thus, the above list briefly indicates acts and omission on the part of an employee which can be termed as misconduct. Besides, the above list of acts and omissions, an employer may consider certain other acts and omissions and get them certified. No disciplinary action can be taken for any act or omission which is not misconduct.

Implementing a New Approach for Managing Discipline:

Organizations that have implemented non punitive discipline methods (discipline without punishment) have experienced improvements in labour relations and grievance rates. Although non-punitive methods are a step in the right direction, these innovations cannot achieve the potential of the new approach.

New Approach to Performance and Discipline Management (NAPDM) is a four-phase process.

To be successful, it requires collaboration between management and labour in-

a. Undertaking a joint assessment of the impact of current practices on employee relations,

b. Developing new policies and procedures for diagnosing problems and taking the appropriate action,

c. Training shop stewards and supervisors in the new approaches,

d. Communicating the new approaches to employees.


Employee Discipline – Disciplinary Procedures in Indian Industries

Disciplinary procedures in Indian industries comprise of the following stages:

Stage # 1. Issuing a Letter of Charge to the Employee Calling upon him for Explanation:

When the management of the establishment comes to conclusion that an act of misconduct committed by an employee warrants disciplinary action, the concerned employee should be issued a charge-sheet. The charge-sheet should indicate the charges of indiscipline or misconduct clearly and precisely. Explanation should also be called from the delinquent employee and for that, sufficient time should be given to the employee. Serving of the charge sheet may be either personally or by post.

Stage # 2. Consideration of the Explanation:

When the delinquent employee admits, in an unqualified manner, about his misconduct and when the employer is satisfied with the explanation given by the delinquent employee, there is no need for conducting any enquiry further. On contrary, when the management is not satisfied with the employee’s explanation, there is need for serving a show-cause notice.

Stage # 3. Show-Cause Notice:

In the show-cause notice, the employer provides another chance to the employee to explain his conduct and rebut the charges made against him. Show-cause notice is issued by the manager, who decides to punish the employee. Besides, a notice of enquiry should be sent to the employee and this should indicate clearly the name of the enquiring officer, time, date and place of enquiry into the misconduct of the employee.

Stage # 4. Holding of a Full-Fledged Enquiry:

The enquiry should be in conformity with the principles of natural justice, that is, the delinquent employee must be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard. The enquiry officer should record his findings in the process of an enquiry. He may also suggest the nature of disciplinary action to be taken.

The important steps in domestic enquiry are- Preparing and serving the charge-sheet, supervision in grave cases, obtain reply to charge-sheet, selecting enquiry officer, conducting enquiry proceedings, holding of enquiry in the free environment, recording findings, submitting enquiry officer’s report to the disciplinary authority, decision of the disciplinary authority and communication of the order of punishment.

Stage # 5. Considering the Enquiry Proceedings and Findings and Making Final Order of Punishment:

When the misconduct of an employee is proved, the manager may take disciplinary action against him. While doing so, he may give consideration to the employee’s previous record, precedents, effects of this action on other employees and consulting others before awarding punishment rate. No inherent right to appeal has been provided, unless the law provides it. In case the employee feels the enquiry is not proper and action unjustified, he must be given a chance to make an appeal.

Stage # 6. Follow-Up:

After taking disciplinary action, there should be proper follow-up. The disciplinary action should not make the employee repeat his mistake.

Section 11-A of the industrial disputes act, 1947, which was introduced by an amendment in 1971, reads as follows:

“Where an industrial dispute relating to the discharge or dismissal of a workman has been referred to a labour court, tribunal or national tribunal, as the case may be, is satisfied that the order of discharge or dismissal was not justified, it may, by its award, set aside the order of discharge or dismissal as the circumstances of the case may require, provided that in any proceedings under the section the labour court, tribunal or national tribunal as the case may be, shall rely only on the materials on record and shall not take any fresh ordinance in relation to the matter.”

Intervention by a Tribunal:

Only under the following circumstances can the tribunal exercise the right to consider the case:

i. When there is a want of good faith;

ii. When there is victimisation or unfair labour practices are used;

iii. When management has been guilty of a basic error or violation of the principle of natural justice; and

iv. When the findings are baseless and perverse.


Employee Discipline – Purposes for Maintenance of Discipline among Personnel at all Levels

In any organization, maintenance of discipline among personnel at all levels is required as proper discipline serves the following purposes:

1. To obtain a willing acceptance of and adherence to organizational rules, regulations, and procedures for performing the jobs effectively.

2. To bring unpredictable behaviours of people in conformity to expected ones so that their behaviours become more predictable.

3. To develop tendency among the employees for greater tolerance and adjustments.

4. To create a sense of respect for human beings in the organization and to create better superior-subordinate relations.

5. To create conducive work environment so as to facilitate increased productivity and organizational effectiveness.

For serving these purposes, management of an organization can adopt two approaches for discipline maintenance; adopting preventive measures so that the problems of indiscipline do not emerge, and curative measures, that is, taking disciplinary actions against the persons involved in indiscipline. Both these approaches are not mutually exclusive, rather these are complementary to each other.

Maintenance of Discipline – Whose Responsibility?

Maintenance of proper discipline in the organisation is a joint responsibility of all concerned. However, it is the line people who share greater responsibility. It will, therefore, be desirable if foremen and supervisory staff are well versed in the techniques of maintenance of discipline.

The management of an organisation can play an important role in this direction by formulating appropriate policies which can be instrumental in maintaining good discipline in an organisation. In addition to taking preventive steps such as code of conduct, grievance redressal procedure, WPM, transparency in administration, publicising discipline-related rules and regulations and free flow of communication, it should also take immediate disciplinary action against violators of discipline, which should be progressive in nature.

Alternatives to Punishment:

There are several options to punishment and improving behaviour of the employees in an organisation.

For example:

1. Rewarding – There must be some incentives and encouragement for behaviour which is physi­cally incompatible with the undesired behaviour. For example, there may be special weightage for regularly disciplined workers at the time of promotion.

2. Allowing reasonable period for adjustment – In case of newly appointed employees or inex­perienced people, a reasonable period of time should be given to them for learning and not repeating the acts of indiscipline.

3. Environmental engineering – By bringing about some changes in the features of environment, some acts of indiscipline can be avoided. For example, some employees may impersonate in marking their attendance or helping the late comers. This can be avoided if biometric machines are provided for marking the attendance through fingerprint.

4. Extinction – Efforts can be made to identify what it is that causes the unruly behaviour. For example, in order to avoid undesirable comments against female employees by some male employees at the time of exit after the duty hours are over, a few marshals can be posted on the way of exit or a separate exit can be provided for female employees.


Employee Discipline – Preventive Measures

‘Prevention is better than cure’ principle is based on the assumption that employees perform better through rewards than punishments. Adoption of preventive measures of discipline maintenance is based on this assumption. These include taking various positive actions so that employees do not involve in indisciplined behaviours.

Besides creating conducive organizational climate, effective leadership and supervision, effective two-way communication, developing mutual trust and understanding, and effective human resource management practices which have positive impact on employees’ overall behaviour and performance, specific actions relevant to developing discipline are as follows-

1. There should be a code of conduct specifying what behaviours are expected from employees rather than merely relying on ‘don’t do these’ which have negative connotation. The code of conduct should be practicable and acceptable to both management and employees.

2. There should be proper training and counselling of employees so that they are able to accept the importance of positive behaviours and how these behaviours lead to their need satisfaction.

3. There is need for effective grievance handling machinery so that employees’ grievances are handled effectively and timely. Often ignorance of grievances leads to indisciplined behaviour.

4. In order to develop discipline among lower-level employees, it is essential that such a disciplined behaviour starts from the top and percolates through the bottom. Demonstration effect in behaviour adaption, both positive and negative, is very important.


Employee Discipline – Guidelines in Managing Disciplinary Problems

The personnel manager/supervisor has to handle the problems or indiscipline based on management’s policies, trade unions and industrial relations policies and practices. He should also create conducive climate for discipline by following the guidelines such as: clearly laid down rules, regulations and procedures, impartial decisions and consistent enforcement of rules, select and award right punishment, verify the past records of the offender, consider the precedents, make sure that action corrects but not punishes, be sure that reprimand is necessary, be sure that the principle of just cause are observed.

Every HR manager should be aware of the guidelines in managing disciplinary problems.

1. Disciplinary Action must be Corrective rather than Punitive:

Managers must remember that the objective of disciplinary action is to correct an employee’s undesirable behavior rather than to only mete out punishment. Punishment is only a necessary means to correct deviant behaviours.

2. Disciplinary Action must be Progressive:

It is desirable that corrective rather than disciplinary action is progressive. Typically, progressive disciplinary action begins with a verbal warning and proceeds through a written suspension and only in extreme cases, dismissal.

3. Following the Rule of “Hot-Stove”:

Administrative discipline should the consequences of be similar to touching a hot stove. That is, the discipline, like the consequences of touching a hot stove, should be immediate, provide ample warning, be consistent and be impartial, be immediate, provide ample warning, be consistent and be impartial.

‘The Hot Stove’ Rule Implies Four Important Points:

1. As impact of a disciplinary action gets reduced when there is a Long time gap between the indiscipline action and implementation of penalty, it is important that the disciplinary process should start as soon as possible after the violation is noticed. If all the facts are not available, the violator may be kept under suspension, pending a final decision. That is, there must be strong signals to others that violation of discipline will be dealt with immediately.

2. Disciplinary action must be consistent as rules lose their impact when rule violations are not enforced consistently. Consistency implies that same type of violations should receive same type of punishment.

3. Disciplinary action must be impartial. That is, penalties should be connected with the violation irrespective of the individuals. There should not be any personal judgment. It must be understood that manager has to penalize the violation of rule and not the individual. Managers must avoid personal judgments about the employee’s character.

4. Depending on the situation, the employee against whom disciplinary proceedings are initiated may be given a chance to be represented by a fellow employee or the union representative.


Employee Discipline – Guidelines in Administering Discipline according to Decenzo and Robbins

DeCenzo and Robbins have suggested certain general guidelines in administering discipline:

i. Discipline should be corrective. The objective of disciplinary action is not to deal out punishment but to correct an employee’s undesirable behavior. While punishment may be a necessary means to that end, managers should not lose sight of the eventual objective.

ii. Discipline should be progressive. Although the appropriate disciplinary action varies from situation to situation, but generally the discipline should be progressive. Only for the most serious violations will an employee be dismissed after a first offense. However, progressive disciplinary action begins with an oral warning and proceeds through a written warning, suspension, and only in the most serious cases, dismissal.

iii. Discipline should follow the “hot stove rule”. Administering discipline can be similar to touching a hot stove. Both are painful to the recipient. When one touches a hot stone, he gets an immediate response and the burn is immediate and one gets adequate warning not to touch again. The result is impersonal. Regardless of who you are, if you touch a hot stove you will be burned.

The impact of the disciplinary action will be reduced as the time between the infraction and the penalty’s implementation lengthens. The more immediate the discipline follows the offense, the more likely it is that the employee will associate the discipline with the offense. Therefore, the disciplinary process should begin as soon as possible after the violation is noticed.

However, there should not be undue haste. The employee should be put on suspension till all the facts are collected. The manager should give advance warning prior to initiating formal disciplinary action so that the employee must be aware of the organization’s rules and accept its standards of behavior.

The employee will interpret disciplinary action as fair when there is clear warning that a certain violation will lead to discipline. Fair treatment of employees also requires the consistency of disciplinary action. The inconsistency of disciplinary action, the disciplinary rules will lose their impact.

Morale will decline and employees will question the competence of management. Productivity will suffer as a result of employee insecurity and anxiety.

All employees desire to know the limits of permissible behavior, and they look to the action of their managers for such feedback. The “hot stove” rule also requires that the discipline is impersonal. Penalties should be associated with a given violation, not with the personality of the violator.

Discipline should be directed at what an employee has done, not the employee himself. The managers should avoid personal judgments about the employee’s character.

Rule violation should be penalized, not the individual. Therefore, all employees committing the violation can expect to be penalized. Furthermore, once the employee has been penalized, the manager must forget the incident and attempt to treat the employee in the same manner as before infraction. The objective is to correct the behavior, not personally attach the employee.


Employee Discipline – In Civil Services

Disciplinary action means the administrative steps taken to correct the misbehavior of the employee in relation to the performance of his job. Corrective action is initiated to prevent the deterioration of individual inefficiency and to ensure that it does not spread to other employee.

The Administrative Reforms Commission has rightly stated that the healthy functioning of the administration depends not only on the competence of its personal, but also on the observance of discipline. Enquiries are instituted against the civil servants or government employees in case of break of state provision in accordance with Article 311 of the Constitution of India.

“Reasonable opportunity” provided by the Act 311 was not apply in the following circumstances:

1. Where a person is dismissed or reduced in rank on the ground of misconduct, which has led to conviction on a criminal charge. –

2. Where is impracticable to give the civil servant an opportunity to defend himself but the authority taking action against him shall record the reason for such action.

3. Where the interest of the security of the state is at stake it is not expedient to give such an opportunity to the civil servant

The employee has still two remedies available where the second provision to Article 311(2) applies:

1. Departmental appeal under the relevant service rules to show that the charges against him are not true.

2. Remedy of judicial review, where the court will examine whether the penalty imposed on the aggrieved employee is excessive or arbitrary or was not warranted by the facts and circumstances of the case.

Minor or Major Penalties:

The civil service rules provide for the imposition of minor or major penalties on the civil servant depending on the nature of misconduct.

The main penalties includes:

(a) Censure,

(b) Withholding of increments of pay,

(c) Recovery of pecuniary loss caused to government by negligence or breach of orders;

(d) Withholding of his promotion.

The major penalties include:

(a) Reduction to a lower scale.

(b) Compulsory retirement.

(c) Removal from service.

(d) Which is not a disqualification for future employment dismissal from service etc.

Under Rule 12, the President of India may impose any of the penalties specified in Rule (11) on any government servant Further under rule 13 President or any other authority empowered by special order to-

(a) Institute disciplinary proceeding against any government servant

(b) Direct a disciplinary authority to institute disciplinary proceedings against any government servant on whom that disciplinary authority is competent to impose under the rules any of the penalties specified in Rule 11.

A disciplinary authority competent under these rules to impose any of the penalties specified in clauses (v) to (ix) of Rule 11 may institute disciplinary proceedings against any government servant for the imposition of the penalties specified in clauses (v) to (ix) of rule 11 notwithstanding that such disciplinary authority is not competent under these rules to impose any of the latter penalties.

Progressive Discipline:

Progressive discipline is liberal in nature and ideally progresses sequentially and systematically through prescribed series of steps to be effective. These steps are as follows: oral reprimand, written reprimand, second written warning, temporary suspension and finally, dismissal or discharge.

In view of above facts, the idea is endorsed that it is important to have self-discipline for healthy organisational behaviour.

Problem of Discipline:

The promotion or maintenance of employee discipline is essential if organized group action is to be effective or productive whether the group is a club, a society, a union a company, a business or industrial concern or a nation.

The word discipline connotes that the members of a group should reasonably conform to the rules -or regulations that is the code of behaviour which have been formed for it or by it so that everyone may benefit by them.

Employee morale or industrial peace is definitely proper mainte­nance of discipline.

If the members of a group do not abide by the rules the organisation, it may collapse.

Chaos, confusion, dis-obedience disloyalty and antisocial or anti- organizational activities develop to the detrimental of everyone.


Employee Discipline – Procedure Commonly Adopted for Disciplinary Action

It is essential to maintain discipline among the employees for better job performance. The literal meaning of discipline is the mode of life in accordance with rules. This mode of life is required in an individual irrespective of the context in which it is followed. In the organizational context, discipline denotes mode of behaviour in accordance with organizationally-prescribed rules, regulations, procedures, or other expected modes of behaviour.

Some authors have defined discipline as mode of behaviour while some have defined it as a force that prompts to engage in behaviour according to rules. We can define discipline as working, cooperating, and behaving in normal and orderly way, as any responsible person would expect an employee to do.

Based on the above definition, we can derive the features of discipline as follows:

1. Discipline is a mode of behaviour which is consistent with group or organizational prescriptions either explicitly or implicitly based on practices. However, prescribed mode offers better guidelines for disciplined behaviour.

2. Disciplined behaviour may emerge from within an individual based on self-discipline or it may emerge out of the use of external force or threat of use of force. However, self-discipline is more desirable which can be inculcated through training and counselling.

Disciplinary Procedure and Disciplinary Action:

The procedure commonly adopted for disciplinary action involves three main steps.

These are:

1. Charge-sheeting,

2. Domestic enquiry/enquiry and

3. Inflicting punishment.

1. Charge-Sheeting:

The first step in initiating against an employee for his act of indiscipline is to charge-sheet him, which involves asking the employee to explain why disciplinary action should not be taken against him for his misconduct. The charge-sheet has to be specific and should state the offence committed by him, the place, date and time of the offence committed. He is given a reasonable time to reply.

The charge-sheet may be handed over to the employee in person, and in the event of his refusal to receive it, it may be sent to him by a registered post. If the employee accepts his guilt and promises not to repeat it again, he may be exonerated of the charge, or else, he may be given a light punishment with a warning. Providing the offender an opportunity to explain his position is based on the principle of natural justice as enshrined under Article 311 of the Indian Constitution.

The Article reads, “No person shall be dismissed or removed from service until he has been given a reasonable opportunity to show cause why the proposed action should not be taken against him.” In a significant judgement, the Supreme Court has spelled out the basic requirements of natural justice.

These are as follows – (i) the workman should know the nature of the complaint or accusation; (ii) an opportunity should be given to him to explain his case and (iii) the management should act in good faith, which means that the action of the management was fair, reasonable and just.

2. Domestic Enquiry/Enquiry:

In case the management is not satisfied with the outcome of the charge-sheeting and considers the offence as of serious nature, it proceeds with the process of domestic enquiry or enquiry. In this stage, the management serves a notice of enquiry to the employee, appoints an officer of the establishment or an outside neutral person to hold the enquiry and intimates the concerned persons accordingly.

The enquiry officer is required to make a thorough investigation into the matter, collect relevant evidences and information, interview the employee and other workers and concerned persons, and keep a record of the facts and statements of witnesses. On the completion of the enquiry, the enquiry officer submits his report to the appointing authority. In case the employee is found guilty of the offence, the enquiry officer ordinarily recommends the punishment to be inflicted on him.

As the enquiry is usually held by an officer of the establishment itself, it is called a “domestic enquiry.” In some cases, the task of conducting enquiry is entrusted to an outside neutral person or agency.

Model Standing Orders on Domestic Enquiry/Enquiry:

In regard to enquiry in disciplinary cases, the “model standing orders” have provided certain guidelines to be followed.

Some more relevant of these are as follows:

(i) The workman shall be entitled to appear in person or to be represented by an officer of a trade union of which he is a member.

(ii) The proceedings of the enquiry shall be recorded in Hindi or English, or in the language of the state where the industrial establishment is located, whichever is preferred by the workman.

(iii) The proceedings of the enquiry shall be completed within a period of 3 months. If the enquiry officer considers it necessary, the period may be extended further.

(iv) If, on the conclusion of the enquiry, the workman has been found guilty of the charges framed against him, and it is considered, after giving the workman concerned a reasonable opportunity of making representation on the penalty proposed, that the order of dismissal or suspension or fine or stoppage of annual increment or reduction in rank would meet the ends of justice, the employer shall pass an order accordingly. Similar guidelines have also been suggested by the first National Commission on Labour (1969).

3. Inflicting Punishment:

After considering the report of the enquiry officer, statements of witnesses and other material evidences, and the recommendations of the enquiry officer as regards the type of punishment to be inflicted on him, the management takes the final decision in the matter and issues an order for implementation. A copy of the order is also served on the guilty employee.

However, prior to taking final decision in the matter, the management is required to ensure that the principle of natural justice has been followed in the procedure and that the punishment awarded is in proportion to the severity of the offence committed.

Indiscipline and violence have constituted a substantial proportion of the total number of industrial disputes in the country for the last several years. Disciplinary cases, especially those resulting in dismissal, discharge or retrenchment, have given rise to a substantial number of litigations under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and relevant state laws. Many such disputes have also come before High Courts and even the apex Supreme Court for decision.

In quite a number of cases, the adjudication authorities and courts have nullified the decision of the management and awarded relief to the employees in various ways such as reinstatement, exoneration of the charge, payment of compensation and so on, many of which have been highly embarrassing and humiliating for the management.


Employee Discipline – Indiscipline in Employees: Meaning, Categories. Factors, Reasons and Causes

Indiscipline means nonconformity to formal and informal rules and regulations of an organization. For the development and growth of an organization, it is important to correct indiscipline as soon as it is observed.

Indiscipline creates an environment of non-cooperation in the organization where strikes, go slows, unauthorised absenteeism and loss of production are possible. It is for the management to determine in its standing orders as to what acts shall be treated as indiscipline or misconduct and to define the quantum of punishment.

Clause 14 of the Model Standing Orders provided in the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 give an illustrative list of acts and omissions which can generally be regarded and constitute as misconduct, and also provides for the disciplinary action for misconduct.

Indiscipline means disorderliness, insubordination and not following the rules and regulations of an organisation. The symptoms of indiscipline are a change in the normal behaviour, absenteeism, apathy, go-slow at work, increase in number and severity of grievances, persistent and continuous demand for overtime allowance, lack of concern for performance etc.

The parties responsible for indiscipline in Indian industries are Trade Unions and management. Politicised Trade Union leadership in India encouraged and instigated indiscipline. Intra-union rivalry and inter-union rivalry are also major causes of indiscipline. Similarly, management tactics like deliberate delay in discipline procedure, concealed penalties such as transfer to an inconvenient place at a short notice, maintenance of confidential reports, withholding of pay and the level of sincerity, honesty and commitment of superiors are also responsible for indiscipline in India.

Indiscipline may be categories into two broad groups, viz.:

1. Minor or Moderate Offences

2. Serious Offences.

1. Minor or Moderate Offences:

It involves unauthorized absence on one or more scheduled work days, leaving job or work area without authorization, loafing, fighting, disorderly behaviour during working hours at the establishment, sleeping on the job, disobedience, smoking in a prohibited area, failure to obey Safety Rules, concealing defective work, unauthorized collection of funds, and allowing unauthorized persons to operate machines, etc.

2. Serious Offences:

It comprises malicious damage or destruction of employer’s goods/property, gross insubordination, gross negligence of duty, stealing and fraud, carrying dangerous weapons, promotion of gambling on company property, frequent repetition of any act of omission, striking work, tempering with official records, and misappropriation of funds etc.

It is very difficult to lay down exhaustively as to what would constitute misconduct and indiscipline. It would depend upon the examination of facts.

Factors Responsible for Indiscipline:

There are several factors which may be responsible for lack of discipline in an organisation.

For conve­nience sake, these may be divided into the following categories:

1. External Factors:

There are several economic, social and political factors which may cause indiscipline in an organisation. For example, the ideology of the ruling party, the character of political leaders, the general level of education among masses and the social and ethical values of the general public may also affect the climate of discipline in an organisation.

Religious acrimony in the population of the country, caste feelings, regional feelings, high rate of inflation, economic turmoil in the country and so on may also affect discipline level in the organisations.

2. Internal Factors:

Internal factors are mainly responsible for causing indiscipline in an organ­isation.

3. Personal Factors:

Personal factors responsible for causing indiscipline, which are related to a few individuals.

Reasons of Indiscipline:

Indiscipline refers to the absence of discipline in which a number of socio-economic and socio- cultural factors are playing a prominent role. We all are aware that for 80% indiscipline in an organisation is arising out of managerial actions arid decisions.

These actions and decisions are:

1. Lack of proper communication system

2. Ineffective leadership

3. Unfair labour practices

4. Inadequate wages and salary system

5. Unreasonable declaration of payment of bonus or non-payment

6. Defective grievance procedure

7. Victimization by management without proper reasons.

8. Non placement of right person on right Job at right time which is suitable for his qualification, experience and training.

9. Undesirable behaviour of the Senior Officials

10. Errors of judgment on the part of the supervisor or the top management

11. Unfavourable working conditions

12. Absence of sympathetic, systematic and scientific management

13. Improper co-ordination, delegation of authority and fixing of responsibility by management

14. The ‘divide and rule’ policy of the management.

Indiscipline may also arise due to lack of commitment to work by employees in an organisation.

The other causes of indiscipline are:

1. Illiteracy and low intellectual level of workers.

2. Social background of workers such as-drinking habit, family system and casteism etc.

3. Natural reaction of workers towards rigidities and multiplicities of the rules

4. Employee’s personal problems and his fears.

5. Inborn tendencies to flout rules and instructions.

In nut shell, indiscipline is the result of many inter related reasons for which management and employees both are responsible. Their removal needs the provision of an adequate leadership, which will be conducive to the fulfillment organizational goals and at the same time lead to the overall satisfaction of the employees. Leadership function should not be constructed as a management prerogative alone, for the employees have to show an equal sense of responsibility for the maintenance of discipline.

Causes of Indiscipline:

The main causes of indiscipline are as follows:

(i) Non-placement of the right person on the right job which is suitable for his qualifications, experience and training;

(ii) Undesirable behaviour of senior officials, who may have set a pattern of behaviour which they expect their subordinates to follow; but their expectations are often belied, and an infringement of rules follows;

(iii) Faulty evaluations of persons and situations by executives lead to favouritism, which generates undisciplined behaviour;

(iv) Lack of upward communication, as a result of which the thoughts, feelings and reactions of employees cannot be conveyed to the top management. This may lead to aggressive or rebellious behaviour;

(v) Leadership which is weak, flexible, incompetent and distrustful of subordinates is often an instrument which makes for the creation of indiscipline among the employees, particularly when a decision is taken in haste and withdrawn under pressure;

(vi) Defective supervision and an absence of good supervisors who know good techniques, who are in a position to appreciate critically the efforts or their subordinates, who can listen patiently to them who are capable of giving definite and specific instructions, and who believe in correcting their men rather than in uprooting them:

(vii) Lack of properly drawn rules and regulations, or the existence of rules and regulations which are so impracticable that they cannot be observed; and the absence of service manuals and a code of behaviour;

(viii) The “divide and rule” policy of the management, as a result of which friction and misunderstanding are created among the employees which destroy their team spirit;

(ix) Illiteracy and the low intellectual level of workers as well as their social background; for example, there may be indebtedness, drinking habits, casteism and other social evils from which an employee may suffer;

(x) Workers’ reactions to the rigidity and multiplicity of rules and their improper interpretation;

(xi) Workers’ personal problems; their fears, apprehensions, hopes and aspirations; and their lack of confidence in, and their inability to adjust with, their superiors and equals;

(xii) Intolerably bad working conditions;

(xiii) Inborn tendencies to flout rules;

(xiv) Absence of enlightened, sympathetic and scientific management;

(xv) Errors of judgment on the part of the supervisor or the top management;

(xvi) Discrimination based on caste, colour, creed, sex, language, and place in matters of selection, promotion, transfer, placement and discrimination in imposing penalties and handling out rewards;

(xvii) Undesirable management practices, policies and activities aiming at the control of workers; e.g., employment of spies, undue harassment of workers with a view, to creating a fear complex among them, and the autocratic attitude of supervisors towards their subordinates;

(xviii) Improper co-ordination, delegation of authority and fixing of responsibility; and

(xix) Psychological and sociological reasons, including misunderstanding, rivalry and distrust among workers and supervisors, an absence of fellow-feeling, a widespread sense of injustice, or apathy on the part of the management.

Act of Indiscipline or Misconduct:

Misconduct is a transgression of some established and definite rule which does not leave any discretion of action to the employees. It is an act or a conduct which is detrimental to the interests of the employer or which is likely to impair the reputation of the employer, or create unrest among other employees it is an act of misconduct even when such activities are performed outside the organisation, or before or after the employee’s duty hours.

In other words, it is for the management to determine what constitutes misconduct. Disciplinary problems may be classified on the basis of the severity of the consequences which flow from them.

They are generally divided into three categories:

1. Minor infractions, which do little or no harm, or which when viewed in isolation, result in very few serious consequences, but which may become serious if they accumulate. Some of the examples of these minor infractions are- negligence, horseplay, minor violations of rules, wage garnishment, failure to be present when needed, and carelessness.

2. Major infractions- These are acts which substantially interfere with the orderly operations of an organisation, which damage morale, or which are so serious that they are apparent to any reasonable person; or acts which are in accumulation of minor offences. Most of these major violations centre round refusal to carry our orders, lying, cheating, stealing or violating safety rules.

3. Intolerable offences are offences of such illegal and drastic nature that they severely strain or endanger employment relationship and are full of threat and menace to most people. These offences arise out of the possession of, and the threat to use, weapons; the use of hard drugs on the job; theft or fighting which results in serious harm to others; and smoking in a place where inflammables and combustibles are kept or stored.

In other words, the offences against discipline relate to attendance, punctuality, regularity, insubordination, loafing, fighting, drunkenness, stealing, breaking or defacing property, smoking, gross negligence of duty, possession of weapons, horseplay and joking, violation of safety rules, and possession and use of hard drugs and narcotics.

In India, Clause 14 of the Model Standing Orders applicable to industrial establishments, and Clause 17 applicable to coal mines, contain a list of the acts of omission and commission which may constitute misconduct.


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