Dear Seniors, Please explain the difference between charge sheet and show cause notice?
From India, Mettupalayam
Doctor Siva Global Hr
Sr. Executive-hr


Dear Colleague,

The memos that are very important in the case of Disciplinary Action for misconducts is Charge Sheet or Show Cause Notice. Even though these words are used interchangeably in practice, there is difference on what is what.

" All Show Case Notices need not proceed to Disciplinary Action. But all Charges Sheets must lead to Disciplinary Action as a next process"

1. Show Cause Notice- Normally, when some misconduct is committed by a workmen or group of workmen and the facts of the case is not very glaring and the documents relied upon for disciplinary action is in need of further Inquiry, then it is better to issue Show Cause Notice. Here the know facts of the incident/ misconduct are narrated and the employee/s are asked to submit in writing detailed explanation for the said incident / misconduct from their side. Here the other side of the coin needs to be understood crystal clear. Then based on the reply next stage of Domestic Enquiry is ordered to probe into the matter and come out with findings. Here based on the reply to the SCN, the charges in the Standing orders may be corrected and then suit the Misconduct Clause and then further the Management may issue Charge Sheet. Hence, in short when there is a need to call for more clarity or facts from the concerned use show cause notice. (SCN). In case of SCN, if the explanation is to the satisfaction of the Management then the notice will be closed and will not lead to further actions.

2. In case of Charge Sheet, it is issued when there is enough proof / concrete evidence that the employee/s had committed the misconduct and there is a prima facie case to proceed. When there is high amount of facts of proven misconduct then direct Charge Sheet/ Suspension Pending Enquiry may be ordered. Then based on explanation, the Domestics Enquiry is conducted.

3. Some companies in their Standing Orders use the words " Show Cause Notice" or " Charge Sheet" and in such case the notices are to be captioned appropriately and not otherwise. Some of my know companies in their standing order has both SCN and CS. In the beginning of the Disciplinary Process a Show Cause Notice is issued and based on explanation, further Charges are framed and CS is issued. Next is Domestic Enquiry.

In short SCN and CS are even though interchangeably used in general situations, in the legal parlance, there is difference in terms of wordings, purpose, nomenclature in standing orders and further actions linked to it.

SCN is a preliminary notice issued calling for explanation and Charge sheet is mentioning clear clauses of misconduct in the standing order. In both cases explanation is called for and based on the merits further actions are taken.

For example : An employee is continuously absenting himself from duty for more than 10 days for example. The reason for such absence is not known whether any medical reasons or otherwise. Here it is opt to issue SCN. Based on explanation and further facts understood next disciplinary process can be decided or if the explanation is to the satisfaction the SCN is dropped.

In another case when some one is caught red-handed when doing proxy attendance or in a theft of company property and security caught with full evidence, directly to issue Charge Sheet. Here the question will be asked " As to why the employee should not be put under disciplinary action and if needed pending enquiry suspension as the case may be"

Above all go with provisions of the Standing Orders on how SCN / CS are explained.

From India, Chennai

Dear Sir, Thanks a lot for your detailed explanation. Regards, Sudha
From India, Mettupalayam

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