Being an employee in any organization is never an easy task. Climbing up the career ladder is full of challenges and all kinds of demanding situations. No matter how excellent or dedicated an employee is at the workplace; the time will come when he or she may have to appear before the disciplinary committee. This shouldn’t be a problem for any employee despite how scary it looks, well anyone shouldn’t be afraid to face the disciplinary committee.
Instead, the employee facing the committee should be well prepared.
In corporate settings across the globe, the process of initiating, conducting and concluding a disciplinary hearing is quite complicated depending on the labor laws of a specific environment. Through this, you will understand in details the whole process of conducting and concluding a disciplinary hearing as provided by the legislation and Tanzania Human Resources practices as outlined below:
1. A disciplinary matter occurs.
Well, it all starts with a disciplinary problem happening, where you may have gone against the Companies policies, handbook, or customary laws. You may notice how you’re supervisor will report the matter to the Human Resources Department (HR Department). The HR Department will be guiding every stage on such issues and ensure correct procedures are followed.
It is essential that proper disciplinary procedures be carried out where necessary.
2. Initiating the Disciplinary Hearing.
Once the matter has been proven going against the guidelines of the employer, the next step is the initiation of the disciplinary hearing. Many employers take this stage seriously, so they examine and reevaluate their disciplinary policies and rules, and some go as far as hiring external hands to assist.
3. Investigation (which may involve suspension of the employee).
In instances where it has been determined that the employee has engaged himself or herself in serious allegations of misconduct, the employer may suspend an employee on full remuneration while the allegations are investigated and pending further action. The employee suspended shall be given a written letter of suspension, setting out the reason for the suspension and any terms of the suspension.
Employees should understand that a suspension is not a punishment, an employee suspended does not equate guilt.
Following the suspension of an employee, the next step is a swift launching of an investigation into all aspects of the matter at hand. The investigation must be done with strict adherence to all professional ethics, and there must be no presumption of guilt against the employee(s). The nature of the investigation will depend on the type of rule that the employee is assumed to have flouted. In some instances, the employer may need to secure the services of external investigators, which as well shouldn’t agonize the employee.
4. Allegations sent to the Employee
As soon as the investigation phase is over, and there is still a need for a disciplinary action to be taken, the employee must be duly informed of the allegations on them in writings. A letter setting out the issue should be provided to the employee of the basis of the problem and allow them to put their case in response before the disciplinary hearing is conducted. This letter should contain sufficient information about the alleged misconduct or poor performance and its possible consequences to enable the employee to respond well on the allegations.
5. A Notice to appear before the Disciplinary Hearing Committee.
As soon as the employee has been informed on the allegations and provided with not less than three working days to respond on the charges, and there is yet a need for a disciplinary action to be taken, the employee must be duly informed of the date of the disciplinary hearing.
A letter of invitation that contains all the necessary details should be given to the employee 48 hours before the disciplinary meeting takes place. The employer should inform the employee on his attendance to the disciplinary hearing, date, time, and place where the hearing is going to take place. This is to allow the employee and employer to get ready for the hearing.
The employee should as well be informed on their rights afforded to them by the law which should include the right of the employee to be accompanied by an interpreter or representative (which may be the Trade union representative).
The threat of losing employment is not just the threat of losing a job but the loss of an income, lifestyle, and status. For most people, losing their job can have consequences which far exceed their thought. Understanding well, this process may keep you further away from being terminated or be provided with a threat to your employment.
6. The Disciplinary Hearing Meeting.
The Disciplinary Hearing Meeting (the Meeting) shall be conducted by a quorum of the Disciplinary Hearing Committee (the Committee), which comprises of:
- The Chairperson (anyone from the senior management team)
- The secretary (who will be assisting the Chairperson)
- The Prosecutor (management representative in support of the allegations against the employee)
- The Accused Employee (someone who is facing these allegations)
- Not less than two observers.
- The Chairperson of the Disciplinary Committee should be a senior manager from different departments from the one the disciplinary issue arises from. The Chairperson has to be impartial and neutral with no sentimental attachments to any of the parties involved in the matter.
Employers and employees (and their companions) should make every effort to attend the Meeting. At the Meeting, the Prosecutor should explain the complaint against the employee and go through the evidence that has been gathered. The alleged employee should be allowed to set out their case and answer any allegations that have been made against them. The employee should be given a reasonable opportunity to ask questions, present evidence, and call relevant witnesses. They should also be given a chance to raise points about any information provided by witnesses.
7. The outcome from the Committee.
After both sides have been given a chance to exhaust their explanations, the Chairperson shall decide to either uphold or dismiss the allegations held against the employee. The Chairperson should inform the employee of the outcome of the hearing as soon as possible, but not later than five working days after the hearing, giving brief reasons for a decision.
In a case where the employee is deemed guilty, the Chairperson may decide what should be imposed as the equivalent penalty or sanction. The Chairperson is responsible for providing a recommendation to the management and not providing any decision by himself.
The Chairperson should also inform the employee on his/her rights to appeal on the recommendation from the Chairperson to a higher authority and that the higher authority will sit and rule on his appeal.
On all phases of the disciplinary hearing, each process should be recorded appropriately by the secretary or the Chairperson. A copy of these recordings should also be made available to the alleged employee. The employee should also take time to go through all the recordings and confirm that all the contents are accurate and precise. In a case where there are inaccuracies in the recordings, the employee has the right to request for the necessary changes to be made. All the records must be clear, and the employee too has the right to seek clarifications at any time relating to any section of the recordings.
Employees should understand their rights and responsibilities in this whole process. In cases where the employee feels that he or she is unfairly discriminated against, a complaint must be lodged with the Commission for Mediation and Arbitration (CMA) within 60 days after the final decision has been provided to the employee.
This information is meant to make you aware of the whole disciplinary process, making you understand in detailed the process and how you can be on top and prepare wisely towards the disciplinary hearing meeting and the outcome from it.