In the occasion that you breach the law in any instance, you will face disciplinary action. A show cause notice or a notice to show cause is a formal document that allows the alleged offender to give reasons why authorities must not take disciplinary action against them. Therefore it is an important part of the disciplinary process.
For example, let’s suppose there is an employment law matter. The employer notifies their intention of taking disciplinary action against the employee due to serious misconduct or alleged offence. In this situation, a show cause notice to the employee will state that the employer will take disciplinary actions if the employee is unable to provide suitable reasons for their misconduct.
Purpose of Show Cause Notice
As mentioned, a show cause notice provides the alleged offender the chance to tell their side of the story. It allows them to explain why a party or authority must not take a particular disciplinary action against them.
For example, in an employment law context, the employer may consider firing an employee over some misconduct. This can be because of workplace harassment or safety breach that came to light during a workplace investigation.
In this case, a show cause notice allows the employee to explain why they should not be disciplined or fired. It is possible for these allegations to be false. If so, they should explain their position to the employer. Moreover, in case there were mitigating circumstances, the employee can mention this in a show cause letter. The court may take them into account if they are reasonable and sound.
What Does a Show Cause Notice Include?
While there is no specific template for a show cause notice, there are some essential points that it must include. Given below is a list of elements to consider if you wish to send a notice to show cause to a party:
- detail the allegations that require a response. This includes details on dates, times, locations, witnesses, or documents.
- state the disciplinary action proposed to be taken
- state the evidence the employer has to support the allegation;
- identify the issue. It can either be a breach of law, code of conduct, or term of employment;
- state the standard of performance expected;
- be clear and free from emotion;
- be issued as soon as practicable;
- state how and by when the employee is to respond.
NSW Fair Trading
NSW Fair Trading can issue a notice to show cause. In case of following grounds, NSW Fair Trading will issue this:
- Failing to execute work with due care and skill,
- Not a fit or proper person to hold authority,
- Failing to comply with a rectification order,
- Guilty of improper conduct.
This notice includes the following important information:
- description of the alleged misconduct;
- ways in which you can respond to the notice and by when;
- the specific grounds for the disciplinary action;
- if there’s an option for verbal submissions, and if so the way in which to schedule appointments for such submissions.
What kinds of penalties can Fair Trading impose? They can either impose a monetary penalty, a condition on your licence or a formal reprimand or caution.
How to Respond to a Notice to Show Cause Formal Document?
It is important for you to respond to the show cause notice as this is your opportunity to explain your circumstances and your position in relation to the allegations you are facing. So if you have received a notice to show cause, how do you respond?
Firstly, understand what the notice is about. Check carefully what the notice asks you to do. For example, does it ask you to explain a specific event that took place on a specific day? Or does it ask for explanations of some actions that you have taken?
It can also ask you to explain why you have not met specific expectations. This can be common if the allegation is from your employer. Secondly, if there are relevant procedures and policies in place, check whether you have indeed breached any of them.
For instance, if you are dealing with a workplace harassment allegations, check the harassment policies of the workplace and see if you have breached them.
You will then have to respond to the notice within a timeframe. Draft a written response for the notice and send it across within that timeframe. Provide as much information as possible about the event or incident that the notice refers to.
Moreover, it is also prudent to gather all relevant documents that will help you to draft a response. Make sure to employ a courteous and professional tone when drafting your response. Lastly, review your response thoroughly. Edit wherever necessary and send your response across. If you cannot respond on time, notify council prior to the date in the notice.
We recommend that you speak with a lawyer for specific legal advice.
Importance of Seeking Legal Assistance for Disciplinary Action
If you are an employee and you are unable to defend your conduct by way of the notice to show cause, you may face dismissal or other disciplinary action. Moreover, this is also the case if you fail to respond to the notice, or if you admit to the breach.
Where your employer does not afford procedural fairness, you can make an unfair dismissal claim (depending on the circumstances). The Fair Work Act (2009) protects the rights and interests of employees in Australia. Our employment lawyers can assist you with any employment law matter or other matter that requires you to respond to a show cause notice.
Moreover, we can also assist you if you need to send a show cause notice to someone because of alleged misconduct. Contact our firm for more information on what legal action or further action you can take.