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The difference between insubordination and insolence (and which gets you fired)

Insubordination is the refusal to obey a reasonable and lawful instruction from your employer, explains labour law specialist Melanie Hart.

Insolent behaviour, on the other hand, is being cheeky, disrespectful and undermining your employer's authority.

Read more: What is constructive dismissal? (and how to prove it)

Employers often confuse and conflate insolence with insubordination, Hart says.

She explains that employees have a duty to obey their employer who is in a position of authority.

Meanwhile, the employer is entitled to issue reasonable, lawful instructions to employees.

Also read: How to make the most of performance appraisals (and why once a year won't do)

She discusses the relationship between the employee and the employer and how dismissal and disciplinary action can arise or be avoided.

As an employee, you have a duty to be subordinate to your employer.

Melanie Hart - Partner, Labour, Employment & Human Rights at Fasken Martineau

There are certain instances where a refusal to comply with an instruction may not necessarily be insubordinate if that instruction was not lawful or reasonable.

Melanie Hart - Partner, Labour, Employment & Human Rights at Fasken Martineau

Insolence is a disciplinary offence for which the employer can take disciplinary action against you.

Melanie Hart - Partner, Labour, Employment & Human Rights at Fasken Martineau

Hart shares examples of reasonable instructions, insubordination and insolent behaviour in the workplace.

Listen to the insightful discussion during the World of Work feature:


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