Nobody wants to discipline an employee, but sometimes it’s necessary. Knowing how to confront issues within the workplace is important to managing staff effectively and efficiently. In this month’s blog, we’re going to provide you the tools you need to run a disciplinary.
Examples of Reasons to Instigate a Disciplinary
The disciplinary process is often instigated when an employee is failing to meet standards. For example:
- Not following company procedures
- Poor Performance
- Dress code violations
The steps of a disciplinary
- An incident occurs
- The employee may be suspended
- An investigation manager starts the investigation. The investigation is an important part of the process as this is establishing the facts and confirming whether there is a case to answer
- When the investigation is complete, it is handed over to a disciplining officer with all of the relevant evidence, statements and notes. The investigation manager and disciplining officer should be different for objectivity
- If there is a case to answer the employee is invited to a disciplinary meeting – they should have at least 48 hours’ notice. You need to invite them in writing and the letter should include:
- date, time, venue of the meeting
- right to representation – either a colleague or trade union representative. (They will need to inform the disciplining officer of whom they wish to bring prior to the meeting).
- any evidence/information to be presented by the Company
- the name of the person who will be the disciplining officer and the company representative/note taker – include their name and their job title
- outline details of the alleged offence – dates, times and what happened
- the possible outcomes
- Hold the disciplinary meeting
- Adjourn the meeting to consider the evidence and mitigation
- Consider the evidence and either reconvene and deliver the outcome or write to the employee with the outcome
- Send out relevant outcome letters
- Ensure that the employee has the right to appeal
Tips for during the disciplinary meeting
- Introduce people present and their roles
- State precisely what the allegation is and outline the case
- Confirm the purpose of the meeting and right to representation – have they decided to be accompanied / were they aware of the right if not? Check ID of trade union representative
- Go through any evidence gathered ensuring that the employee has had time to consider all relevant documentation
- Give the colleague the opportunity to state their case and provide mitigation
- Always listen carefully to the employee and seek to understand
- Establish areas of agreement or disagreement
- Ensure accurate and comprehensive verbatim notes are taken throughout the hearing and allow the employee and disciplining officer to approve these including any non-verbal actions
- Review and summarise key points
- Adjourn the meeting if it gets confrontational or if you need to take a break
- If there is need for additional investigation a further adjournment may be necessary
What can a representative do in the meeting?
- Address the hearing with statements, submissions etc.
- Confer with the employee
- Request adjournments
- Ask questions
- Can delay proceedings – if unavailable on the selected date and time
The ACAS Code of Practice
The ACAS Code of Practice sets out the basic requirements that will be applicable in most cases when running a disciplinary.
The Code is as follows :
- PROMPTLY – raise and deal with issues promptly, should not unreasonably delay meetings, decisions, or confirmation of decisions
- CONSISTENTLY – employers and employees should act consistently
- INVESTIGATIONS – employers should carry out necessary investigations to establish facts
- INFORM – employers should inform employees of basis of problem and give them opportunity to put their case forward
- ACCOMPANIED – employers should allow employees to be accompanied at any formal disciplinary and grievance hearing
- APPEAL – employers should allow an employee to appeal against any formal decision made
In unfair dismissal claims, employment tribunals take the “Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures” into account where relevant and may increase an award of compensation by up to 25% for an employer’s unreasonable failure to follow it.
Below are some examples of unreasonable failure to follow the code:
- Not setting out the allegations clearly throughout the process
- Not warning the employee of the possible outcomes / consequences
- Failure to provide them with the relevant evidence
- Not allowing the employee to be accompanied
- Unexplained delays in the process
In summary, the disciplinary process is in place to correct and inform. It is important that the process and procedure is adhered to as a claim for unfair dismissal could be upheld if the decision was deemed unreasonable and unfair.
The company would also need to demonstrate that the process was thorough, objective and conducted in line with the company policies and ACAS Code of Practice.
What should you do …..
Ensure that your company Disciplinary Policy reflects the ACAS Code of Practice. Also train your management team in how to apply the policy and conduct the process.
If you need any support, you can contact us via our online form, or call us on: 0330 400 5490.
With over 20 years HR generalist experience across all disciplines, Sarah has worked across a number of business sectors and understands the importance of robust and practical HR processes and trained, motivated and engaged people in delivering business success.
As Wurkplace’s Head of HR, she is passionate about both providing the best HR service to our Clients as well as recruiting, developing and retaining the best team.