Who is responsible for employee conduct? 5

A code of conduct is defined as a set of conventional principles and expectations that are considered binding on any person who is a member of a particular group. This definition is what would apply to company policies and procedures as related to conduct, discipline, Grievance policies, ethics policies and so on
The purpose of company policies and procedures is therefore to set out in a structured format the norms of behaviour acceptable of employees and management of the company. Note I say “employees and Managers” and not just employees. A disciplinary code and policy for instance, is to regulate standards of conduct and incapacity of employees within a company or organisation. In addition it sets out how managers should deal with errant employees. This would then indicate that managers have an obligation to enforce the policies and procedures as set out and employees should be expected to adhere to these policies. Having policies and procedures creates certainty and consistency in the application of rules and regulations.
A code of conduct is a set of rules that become a standard for all employees under different circumstances in the workplace. Every company has its own rules that govern how employees can be expected to behave and how managers can be expected to respond to misbehaviour.
A code of conduct may be written or implied. Companies can have in their induction programmes copies of various policies and procedures that employees are expected to adhere to. In addition these become the standards to which employees automatically agree as part of the terms of employment.
The employer needs to establish that all employees are aware of the rules, the policies and the procedures as set out in such documents. In addition employees and managers must be aware of the reasonable standards of behaviour that are expected of them in the workplace.
All employees and managers must abide by and enforce the various policies and procedures that have been put in place in order for companies to comply with legislative requirements. The employees and management also need to ensure they are familiar with the requirements in terms of the various policies and standards that have been set.
This then would place the onus on management to ensure all employees are adequately trained and understand the terms and conditions of the policies that exist in the workplace. This does not mean giving employees a copy of the various policies and trusting they will read them – we all know this doesn’t happen. The employees must be put through formal training to ensure common understanding. Managements understanding of the meaning of ethics for instance must be the same as the employees understanding. In addition, the company has an obligation to ensure the rules and regulations are enforced equitably, as soon as possible after a deviation occurs.
Des Squire (Managing Member)
Cell 0828009057

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About Des Squire

I specialise in Employment Equity and Skills Development issues. Qualified facilitator, assessor, moderator, verifier and SDF. Available for any related assignments and or freelance work. If ou have a need let's meet to discuss. Quotes for training on request.

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5 thoughts on “Who is responsible for employee conduct?

  • Louise Madgwick

    It goes back to one common value and that is RESPECT.  Respect for employer and respect for employee. I think a lot of people both employee and employer have lost the meaning of respect!

  • Des Squire Post author

    Hi Clement

    It never ceases to amaze me how few people actually answer the questions posed. 

    I agree with you totall that the responsibility rexsts with the individual employee. All employees should thereefore behave similarly if the rules and regulations are correctly introduced and management ensures common understanding. However when there is a brach of a regulation and managers fail to respond and rectify then the ongoing non compliance becomes the responsibility of management. It is the failure to enforce, when enforcement is called for that causes the problem.

  • Clement Makan

    Des, I was anticipating an answer to the question you posed in the title. Is it the employee, be s/he the operator or supervisor/manager/executive, or is it the supervisor/manager/executive? As members of the human race we are all subject to certain rules/regulations/policies/procedures. Call them universals.For example the chances are very good that I will suffer the consequences if I dived into a dam claimed by a couple of nasty, hungry crocs. Similarly, if I had to step off a plane in mid-flight (assuming the cabin crew are at lunch), I’d hit the ground pretty hard. Irrefutable facts of life. Conduct in the work environment, however, needs to be governed by a framework of good business principles which apply to ALL employees (unless of course, I own the business). I fully accept that ALL employees must share a common understanding of these “rules of work” and accept them as a reasonable framework to govern their lives at work. However, responsibility for conduct at work lies with the individual. If s/he is not prepared to accept that responsibility, then the question begs, “Why was s/he hired in the first place?” Then again, being human we all suffer a lapse in concentration at times. After all, don’t we all test the limits of our freedom?This is when the supervisor/manager/executive needs to apply the spirit of the framework to get conduct back to acceptable limits. This, in turn, implies that the supervisor/manager/executive has the emotional intelligence and the power to do so. Sadly, in many organizations this power has been vacuumed to the “top” for fear of reprisals. A good subject to discuss. Thanks for the blog.

  • Ian Webster

    “Bureaucracy!” is the cry when one points out the policies and procedures to managers who want to do their own thing. The reality, as you say Des, is that they provide certainty and consistency and internal equity is maintained.

    Yes, there are special circumstances that require one to think outside the policy and procedure box, but be very careful because you have now created a precedent that might prove very costly in the long run. In future any employee who fits those “special circumstances” will be entitled to expect the same consideration.

  • Mahlatse Isaac Motswege

    Policies and procedures have eyes in most workplaces I have consulted,as a consultant.I though management across races were bind by them,but to my surprise most Manager comes and goes as they wish.You might not understand the reasons behind race in terms of policies and procedures.General workers are always in the recieving end.Des has a point that it should be compulsory,but who is going to enforce that? for both employees and managers.Leading by example Claudia is a must,but when can we see the results?