Insubordination is one of the common causes for terminating an employee. Employment contracts explain insubordination quite clearly, almost. How to know what is really insubordination and is insubordination just cause for termination? We are here to answer some essential questions about it.

What is meant by insubordination?

Disobedience or insubordination is understood as the employee’s intentional refusal to obey the employer’s order. The order should be lawful and reasonable. This order should be something that is stated in the job description of the employee. Some of the things that can be considered as insubordination are:

(i) Employee’s refusal to comply with a reasonable order to return to work

(ii) Failing consistently to arrive on time to work

(iii) Consistent abandonment of the shift without permission

(iv) Employee’s refusal to carry out a necessary order when instructions have been given.

Can the employer Justify Dismissal without Notice due to insubordination?

The employer can justify dismissal without notice due to the insubordination of the employee. This is because insubordination is considered a violation of the essential conditions that are included in the employment contract. As per the contract, an employee needs to obey the orders of the employer properly. For the employer to justify summary dismissal, it is essential for insubordination should be willful. When the employee fails to fulfil an order given to the employee because it wasn’t clear or there was reasonable confusion, it might not amount to insubordination or disobedience.

Single Incident: Rarely are single incidents of insubordination justified summary dismissal. The exceptional situation arises when it causes repudiation of the employment contract. When this happens, insubordination needs to be concerning some crucial matter. However, when there is a minor incident it is rare for it to be used to justify summary dismissal. The employee might be under the impression that the task is inconsequential or a mere suggestion.

Multiple Incidents: As stated above a single minor incident doesn’t always justify summary dismissal. When there have been multiple minor incidents back to back, it might be considered as insubordination. For example, when the employee fails to turn up on time for work after being given multiple warnings. It would be considered as insubordination. Cumulative several minor instances can justify summary dismissal.

Can the employee refuse an order given by the employer?

Though the employees are under an obligation to obey the orders given by the employer, it is not always the case. There are some circumstances under which the employee can refuse an order, and it won’t be considered as disobedience on their part. Some of the situations are when the employee is not required to perform, the order is given by someone who doesn’t have the proper authority, unlawful order, unreasonable as per norms of society and giving rise to unsafe situations. It is not considered insubordination because the employee disagrees with the employer. Even when an employee is being dismissed for insubordination, the employer has to provide a reasonable explanation.