Disciplinary rules and procedures are important in any workplace as they set out boundaries of acceptable conduct and satisfactory performance. It ensures that all employees who step over these boundaries are treated fairly.
However, where possible it is wise to deal with issues as and when they arise informally and use improvement letters or letters of concern to highlight issues with employees from the outset so that it is not a surprise if you do need to move to a formal disciplinary hearing as the employee has had every opportunity to deal with the issue beforehand.
The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures came into effect on 6 April 2009. An employer’s failure to follow the provisions of the Code may result in an award of Unfair Dismissal by an Employment Tribunal and in some cases an uplift of any such award of compensation to penalise the employer for not following a fair procedure.
It is important that employees know what standards of conduct and performance are expected of them. The Employment Contract should contain any disciplinary rules that are in place. There is no small employer exemption.
We advise a business to carrying out a disciplinary process without delay and to ensure you follow the Company Disciplinary Procedure, which should be modelled on the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
The key principles to take into account are:
- Make sure no action is taken until the matter has been properly investigated.
- Ensure employees are sufficiently informed of the concern against them and other relevant information in good time before a disciplinary meeting is held, so that they have the opportunity to prepare for the meeting.
- Hold a formal disciplinary meeting at which the complaint against them is explained by the employer, who should go through the evidence that has been gathered.
- Give the employee the opportunity to state their case, ask questions, present evidence and call relevant witnesses before any decision is reached.
- Explain to the employee the types of disciplinary action that might be taken and give relevant examples, particularly for what might be considered gross misconduct.
- Ensure all matters to be dealt with as quickly as possible.
- Except for gross misconduct, no employees should be dismissed for a first breach of discipline.
- Explain to the employee their right to be accompanied at disciplinary and appeal meetings by a fellow employee or trade union official.
- Set out in writing the outcome of the meeting and give employees an explanation for any disciplinary action taken against them.
- Provide a right of appeal and specify the procedure to be followed
Employers are advised to ensure their policies and procedures are up to date.
ActifHR is able to assist your business drafting a Disciplinary Procedure and guide you through the processes on a step by step basis to ensure it is carried out properly and reasonably.
For more information on other HR Policy support from ActifHR, click on another employment topic from the list on the left of this page.