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We are a medium sized business with 100 staff members. I am the owner/CEO with a basic HR department trying to learn industry best practices.
We have 2 senior Division Heads managing their teams of 40 people each. The HR department is common.
Question : When there is a disciplinary issue with a staff member what is the HR role supposed to be?
A. Remind the employee of company policy with a polite warning
B. Inform the Division Head/Manager of the violation so that he can speak to his team member.
Eventually HR will get involved if Division Head recommends some action, but question is who will speak to the employee first - HR or their Manager?

From India, Ludhiana

Dear friend,
Being the owner-cum-CEO of the industry charged with the overall inalienable responsibility of steering the company moving ahead unabated, your post and its ultimate query is indicative of the meticulous attention you pay towards harmonious working environment in the shop floor.
Coming to your question, the HR being the specialist in HRM can be an effective counsellor on the softer side and can prove to be an expert in guiding the management fairly in the matter of disciplinary control on the harder side.
But my personal view is that only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches. To put it straight the identification and analysis of behavioral as well as performance issues of grass root level workmen should start with the line managers and functional heads as they handle the day to day work schedules. This would enable them to understand the gaps in communication between the doers and the overseers and decide on appropriate remedial measures then and there. This is an overall perspective on the identification of occasional blips and resolution of root level conflicts.
When this becomes futile, the HR can play the role of an impartial counsellor and try to convince the trouble maker.
When all these gradual efforts of sama, dhana and bedha fail, the HR would be on a vantage point to advise the Disciplinary Authority to take the dhanda and ensure the process end in success.

From India, Salem
Kritarth Consulting

Any Act Unworthy of Employment, calls for Necessary Disciplinary Action (Corrective Action) which is the Essential "Duty", "Responsibility", "Prerogative" and "Priviledge" of "the Employer" in respect of the Persons employed by Her/Him.
Hence, it the Employer's Authority to Initiate Any Disciplinary Action including and Often Beginning with Counselling, Advisory, Caution, Verbal Warning, ending with Discharge or Dismissal. All the Disciplinary Action-Steps Must therefore Be Taken by the Employer or the Person so Authorized by Instrument of Delegation of Authority/Power to discipline
Human Resource Functionaries like any other Functionaries such as Finance, Oprns, Sales , Marketing etc are Reportees to the Employer/the Occupier/the Disciplining Authority and by virtue of that need Not Be the Punishing Authority who are actually the Appointing Authority,too.
Human Resource Management and or Development Functionaries are, by Nature & Scope of their Duties are at Best the ?Aid & Advisors to the Employer/ the Punishing Authority.
Let HR Mgt & Development Professionals Be & Remain Aid & Advsor to the Employer /Punishing Authority as far as Disciplining is concerned and concentrate More on Practicing "Humane Touch" which Does not absolve the HR M Professionals fro Being a Good Listeners and " Coach, Councellor and Mentor, entwined".
Team Kritarth,
Bengaluru Centre, 1.1.2020

From India, Delhi

You have 2 Division heads, presumably they are your Line managers. HR is a staff function.
In a manufacturing scenario, the real HR manager is your Line managers. Hence in my opinion, let your line managers may talk to the staff and resolve the issue, if any .

From India, Aizawl

Concurring with seniors views, the line or reporting manager is the one who understands the genesis of the disciplinary issue and shall gather initial facts and speak to the delinquent employee and assess the gravity of the issue.If the issue is of minor breach of discipline warranting a warning or issuing a memo with caution etc, he can take the help of HR to provide necessary drafts. However, if the matter is grave and involves some financial bungling, it requires a detailed investigation and in my view the line manager shall not be burdened with such investigation as his focus shits from production which is his core responsibility to administration and his precious time is spent for disciplinary process.He the can submit a report with recommendation to HR for detailed investigation.The hr can draft the services of the Finance department to probe the matter and submit report for further action.
HR & Labour Relations Adviser.

From India, Mumbai
Ed Llarena, Jr.

"Eventually HR will get involved if Division Head recommends some action, but question is who will speak to the employee first - HR or their Manager ?"
My take on this matter is: The Manager as direct and immediate superior of the employee have the responsibility to talk first to the employee. Then he can inform or coordinate with HR relative to any recommended action that the immediate superior/ manager may have for the said employee. This is to make sure that the imposition of any DA is consistent with Company policy and does not create any precedent action/ decision.
As pointed out above, the role of HR is SUPPORT. Hence, care must be taken to ensure that the critical role fo the immediate manager is not usurped by HR.
Best regards.

From Philippines, Parañaque

Many people in the industry have a wrong notion that HR is responsible for all people-related actions. This is absolutely wrong. Many of our learned professionals have mentioned above that every line manager is a HR manager who handles the manpower directly to meet departmental and organisational goals. HR Manager is an enabler to provide clarifications, interpretation and provide support in a netural way, explaining what is right and what is wrong. HR department is there to translate management's views through various policies, their implementation, supervision etc. If a line manager does not know any application of rule, it is better to take the help of HR Department.
Best wishes

From India
So in summary of the responses :
Following steps to be taken in this order :
1. Employee violates company policy/ Discipline
2. HR informs his respective reporting head/manager to counsel the employee
3. Manager counsels the employee - he may seek clarity from HR regarding what is the right way to do it, what is the exact company policy and whether his proposed solution if any - is in line with company policy
4. Manager may implement some formal disciplinary action and may involve HR into it as well
5. If Manager fails to counsel/correct employee behaviour within a specified time period, HR may remind the manager once more - failing which issue to be esclated to Manager's Manager
Have I understood the matter correctly ?

From India, Ludhiana
Nagarkar Vinayak L

Dear Colleague,
HR's role in general and in matters of disciplinary actions in particular, is that of an advisor, counsellor and catalyst. The Frontline managers have primary responsibility of all people issues of the team/s under his/her control.
Therfore, to answer your query, quite obviously it is the line manager who has to initiate talk with the truant employee after seeking advice from the HR if need be or sort out the issue at hand at his/her level regardless of who noticed / reported first the act of indiscipline.
Vinayak Nagarkar
HR and Employee Relations Consultant.

From India, Mumbai

Dear Friend,
Discipline is the essence of Industrial relation. The indiscipline is caused in absence of clear cut policy of the establishment with do's & don'ts.
Your establishment having 100 more staff in role. Thereby it is almost essential to have the managemnt a Standing Orders at the earliest. It may be your HR department trying to put the best practices but without policy, it would not fruitful.
We have 2 senior Division Heads managing their teams of 40 people each. The HR department is common.
When there is a disciplinary issue;
* The HR role in first, is to inform the Management.
** To analyse the gravity of misconduct and it's retrosepctive impact on mass, if not taken action.
*** If it is well felt that the indiscipline is due to unawre of policy on part of staff, can be reminded the employee about company policy and with a warning.
The answer to "who will speak first" is HR, since the complainant is the DH of the staff may be the Manager.

From India, Mumbai
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