Disciplinaries in the workplace: the most common reasons

A survey carried out by XpertHR has revealed the most common incidents leading to disciplinary measures in the workplace, Personnel Today reports. The study focuses on the period of 2011 to 2013 and gave employers a list of reasons as to why somebody may be disciplined. They were then asked to identify how often these occurred, choosing from the answers “never”, “occasionally” or “frequently”. We’ll run through some of the list and see which was the most common reason for disciplinary.


This was the least frequent reason for caution with not one employer saying that it happened frequently. 81% said in fact that discrimination had never been the cause for disciplinary in the two year period.

Substance Misuse

Substance misuse was also a fairly rare occurrence. 75% of employers stated that they had never disciplined anybody for drug or alcohol related reasons, however 1% did say that this happened frequently.

Health and Safety

7% said that the breaching of health and safety regulations were regular grounds for discipline. 51% however stated that they haven’t had to address this in the last two years.


Over half of interviewees (53%) said that harassment was disciplined occasionally with 44% saying that they have not had to address bullying or harassment at all.

Misuse of Internet and Email

Here is a category that I expected to have larger results of disciplinary action for! Only 4% said that they frequently had to talk to employees about their misuse of email and social media. 38% said that it wasn’t a problem at all.

Unauthorised Absence

70% of all those interviewed said that they had to address unauthorised absence frequently or occasionally.

Related article: How to manage unauthorised absence from work


This was the third most common subject for discipline. 16% of employers said that this was disciplined regularly with almost 60% saying that they had to deal with this now and again.

General Misconduct

This was by far the most addressed area of discipline with 43% saying that this happened frequently and 50% saying it was occasional. This means that a total of 93% of employers said that they had to deal with this at some point over the two year period.

Differences in The Place of Work

One of the factors that is unclear about these statistics is that the types of businesses are not specified. This could have a bearing on the answers given. For example, a warehouse, or industrial business may have many more health and safety regulations than that of an office environment. Likewise one would assume the misuse of email or social media is more likely to happen in an office. Also, the term “general misconduct” could cover a multitude of issues, and the interpretation of the phrase could differ between interviewees.


The 11 Most Common Issues Raised at a Disciplinary Hearing | Personnel Today

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Written by Fiona Sanderson

Fiona is Marketing Manager at myhrtoolkit. Her areas of expertise include HR systems, productivity, employment law updates, and creating HR infographics.

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