What’s more serious: Insubordination or gross insubordination?

Simangele Mzizi, Fsp Business, 19 Aug. 2014

Tags: insubordination, gross insubordination, employee insubordination, discipline

There’s a lot of confusion regarding insubordination and gross insubordination.

Some of the confusion is around the seriousness of these two offences. For example, our experts often get questions from employers who want to know what’s more serious between insubordination and gross insubordination.

If you want to know the answer too, keep reading so you’ll be able to discipline your employees in a legal manner.

Before we get to which’s more serious, let’s first define gross insubordination and insubordination

In this article, Taryn Strugnell, the Managing Editor for Labour Law for Managers says:

Insubordination is when an employee fails to obey a direct and specific order; and

Gross insubordination is an employee’s deliberate defiance of your authority. He breaches a basic duty to be compliant and refuses to follow reasonable instructions. He intentionally challenges your authority and makes continued employment unbearable.

We bet from this definition you already have an idea of what’s more serious. Let’s take a look at what’s more serious.

*********** Recommended Product ************

Know the difference between insubordination, gross insubordination and insolence

There's a fine line between insubordination, gross insubordination and insolence of an employee. Do you know the difference? How would you discipline an employee in each instance? If you get it wrong you could lose at the CCMA!

Find out how to discipline in each case so it doesn’t land up costing you!



Here’s the answer to which’s more serious between insubordination and gross insubordination

Insubordination is less serious compared to gross insubordination.

If, for example, your employee fails to follow your instruction because he runs out of time or forgets to do something you asked, it’s insubordination and not gross insubordination.

The reason?

He didn’t intend to defy your authority. So you can just give him a warning. Dismissing him would be unfair.

Gross insubordination is different matter and it’s more serious. That’s because in this case an employee refuses to follow your instruction. It’s a direct and wilful challenge to your authority.

And since this deliberate and wilful refusal goes against the most important duty of an employee, (your employee has a basic duty to follow your instructions) you can dismiss him for gross insubordination.

Now that you know what’s more serious between insubordination and gross insubordination, discipline your employees in a legal manner.

Related articles:




RSS Facebook Share the experience
Labour and HR Club
  • CCMA
  • Discipline
  • Dismissals
  • Employment Equity
  • Employment terms and conditions
  • Foreigners
  • Laws / Acts / DoL
  • Leave
  • Performance management
  • Policies and procedures
  • Recruitment
  • Trade unions
Our experts
Wouter Booysen
Johria van den Bergh Nichola Wainwright Marleen Potgieter Ulrich Stander Andrea De Jongh Roxanne Segers
A staff member asked to take leave for three weeks in 6 months time to visit his elderly mother in Australia. This was...[read more]
Published at 26 Jan. 2018 1 answer
Published at 11 Jan. 2018 1 answer
Hi, I work 5 hours a day (8am to 1pm). Am I entitled to any sort of break?[read more]
Published at 16 Jan. 2018 1 answer
Good morning, Kindly confirm if the below constitute for family responsibility leave please. I fell ill two days...[read more]
Published at 08 Jan. 2018 1 answer
My domestic worker told me she is pregnant, she will be working for me for about 2 years now and we have not registered...[read more]
Published at 06 Feb. 2018 1 answer
Video Archive Video club
Your library of Free eReports
View full library