Penalties for an employee sleeping on the job?

Hi Jane,

 We have an employee who is really unlikable and has a bad attitude towards work. Let’s just say I’m dealing with a one-of-a-kind jerk. Two or three times a week, you would find him catching some Zs, and not just during the lunch hour. As a manager, I’ve intervened to ascertain the reason for the fatigue. It doesn’t look like he’s hung over because of late-night partying or moonlighting. Neither does he suffer from a medical condition like sleep apnea.

Last week, he dashed off at lunchtime and didn’t come back until I woke him up 2 hours later. I decided not to say anything, and hope it was a one-off, but lately, it has become a daily occurrence.

Penalties for Employee Who is Sleeping At Job

I offered suggestions to help and had to remind him that sleeping on the job is unacceptable and the consequences would be much dire.


In many workplaces, employees get fired for sleeping on the job. Personally, I think one shouldn’t fire an employee for a single occurrence. Sleeping on the job may be intentional or accidental. Whatever the case it, it greatly affects productivity and tasks. It is considered to be a severe form of misconduct and also projects a very unprofessional appearance. There is a growing trend among workplaces that have allotted a nap time for their workforce, so as to help them cope with lethargy. A 5-minute nap can help employees become alert, energetic and productive. If you cannot allot a nap time, you need to ensure that certain steps are taken to help the employee deal with the Zs. First and foremost, you need to make it clear that sleeping on the job is absolutely unacceptable! Albeit, your only choice in this situation is to make it clear that another occurrence would lead to a disciplinary action. You need to ensure first that the employee has no underlying disability. Make a record of the conversation you have with the employee regarding this matter. You need to mention the consequences of repeating this kind of behavior. Start with two weeks of unpaid vacation? If you still catch this employee sleeping during work hours, in spite of the disciplinary meetings and written warnings, you may fire them. Simple as that!

Jane Harper
Writer. Human resources expert and consultant. Follow @thehrdigest on Twitter

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    I absolutely loved this article. You’re correct, it needs leadership, trust, and vision to create a workplace environment that helps people to cope up with fear and move forward.

  2. @Laurasturn says:

    “Fear is an eventual culture killer” – I agree!

  3. @mattblac says:

    This is a great article. I would also like to tell individuals that life is full of stresses, yet many of us feel that our lives must be perfect, but such is not the case. Bad days and setbacks will always happen, and it’s important to remember that life is messy. Fear is important, but allowing it to get an absolute control over your system is not good. Sure, the workplace will pitch in all the efforts to make you feel comfortable and as an initiation to drive your fears away, but unless you’re bold enough to think and take risky decisions without fearing the next becomes a deal-breaker.

  4. RYAN says:

    A very well written article. Fear indeed needs to be driven off the premises if one is seeking for positive growth and productivity.

  5. @rafael_HR says:

    It’s true. Fear should exist nowhere near productivity.

  6. Phillip says:

    Fear is good, but excessive fear kills productivity.

  7. Issobel says:

    I like this article.

  8. Barney Moore says:

    Nice article. 🙂

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