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Understanding disciplinary proceedings

Understanding disciplinary proceedings

Working in nursing or midwifery can expose you to allegations of poor performance or misconduct, which may result in disciplinary action. Most enterprise bargaining agreements (EBAs) contain a disciplinary procedure that your employer is obliged to follow.

Having an allegation of poor performance or misconduct made against you can be distressing and confronting for members. It is important that you know your rights and contact the ANMF as soon as possible for assistance.

Can I just be called up to the office and disciplined?
EBAs usually require your employer to notify you of the allegations, and provide supportive evidence, before you meet. If you attend a meeting for a ‘chat’ and discover it is a disciplinary hearing, ask for the meeting to be re-scheduled and for the employer to put their concerns in writing. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, contact your ANMF Organiser.

Does my employer need to do a proper investigation?
If your employer does not conduct a proper investigation, or provide you with enough information to defend to the allegations, then they have denied you with procedural fairness. Your Organiser can address this with your employer, or if necessary EBAs generally allow a challenge in the Fair Work Commission.

What is procedural fairness?
The principles of procedural fairness or natural justice include:

  • to be given prior notice of the allegations in writing and materials which form the basis of the employer’s concerns
  • to be given a fair opportunity to respond to the allegations
  • the decision maker should not be biased.

Members have a right to representation, including an ANMF representative.

What happens if I am disciplined?

  • If the allegations are serious, you may be stood down on full pay during the process.
  • If you get a disciplinary letter, contact ANMF as soon as possible for assistance and support.
  • Notify your employer if you will be taking an ANMF representative to the meeting.
  • If the disciplinary letter refers to a policy breach, it is advisable to get a copy of this policy.
  • If you raise issues during the hearing that warrant further investigation, the employer may need to investigate those further.
  • Following the disciplinary process, the employer must inform you of the decision.
  • The options that an employer can use are limited by the disciplinary procedure, from counselling through to a warning, or in cases of serious misconduct, dismissal.

What can I do if I am feeling stressed?
ANMF recommends getting support from Nursing and Midwifery Health Program Victoria 9415 7551 or admin@nmhp.org.au. This is a free and confidential counselling service. You can also see your GP and discuss your health concerns.

How long does a warning last?
Most EBAs limit a warning to 12 months, or in some cases 18 months. If you repeat the conduct that resulted in the first warning within that time, you can then get a second warning. If you repeat that course of conduct again, you can get a final warning. Another occasion, and your employer can dismiss you.

This information is of general nature, however the principles should generally apply.

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