Applying procedural fairness is an important aspect of great management and can assist in taking the emotion out of decision making. Procedural fairness is focused on the process of making a decision rather than the outcome of a decision.
Procedural fairness is particularly important when it comes to performance management and disciplinary action. Failure to uphold fair decision making processes can expose a business to the risk of a decision being challenged on the basis the process was not fair and equitable.
In employment law, procedural fairness means you must give an employee a fair and reasonable opportunity to respond to matters or evidence that you believe justifies a disciplinary action. You must also make sure that at each step of the disciplinary process the employee has a genuine understanding of the situation and the possible consequences. During the process, you must disclose all critical issues that are relevant to the disciplinary action.
Procedural fairness is also important when conducting an investigation irrespective of the allegations or the level of an employees seniority. An employee may challenge a decision if an investigation is found to be conducted unfairly.
Interviews should be conducted with fairness, discretion and consistency. An interviewer has to be objective and all participants treated with respect.
If you are unable to uphold procedural fairness in a disciplinary process you should appoint a suitably qualified independent mediator to manage the process for you.
For a workplace to perform at its best, employees must be held accountable for their actions and they should feel comfortable to raise complaints and air grievances in a safe forum. This means that employers may need to undertake a workplace investigation from time to time.
Workplace investigations can be an emotionally charged experience and may deal with sensitive matters. Conducting an unbiased and professional workplace investigation is an important step in understanding the issue and putting in place the necessary actions to resolve it.