Disciplinary, Dismissal & Grievance Procedures

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During the life cycle of your employee, you may find it necessary to exercise some form of disciplinary action which could take any number of forms ranging from counseling, informal warnings, etc. through to a final warning or even dismissal. You must bear in mind that your prime objective is corrective – not punishment.

Any disciplinary procedures must be seen to be exercised in a manner that will enable the employee to retain his position as a valued member of staff and not purely used as a mechanical exercise or just because you “want to get rid as his face doesn’t fit anymore”.

Adherence to your well written disciplinary procedure is an essential part of any process. Equally, your employee may find an occasion to pursue a grievance over the way he’s treated so a suitable grievance procedure is the obvious channel to be used.

Basically, disciplinary and grievance procedures should conform to the ACAS Code of Practice. Failure to follow this will not automatically mean that any action taken is unfair, but both sides ignore it at their peril. Employment Tribunals will consider the Code of Practice as a guide when assessing the reasonableness of any action taken.

ACAS Code of Practice makes the following recommendations:

In relation to a grievance:
  1. the employee should tell the employer of the grievance
  2. the employer should hold a meeting with the employee to discuss the grievance
  3. the employee should be told of the right to be accompanied
  4. after the meeting the employer should decide on the appropriate action
  5. the employer should permit the employee to have a right of appeal
In relation to a disciplinary and dismissal:
  1. the employer first needs to establish the facts of the case
  2. the employer should then inform the employee of the nature of the problem
  3. the employer should hold a meeting with the employee to discuss the matter
  4. the employee should be told of his right to be accompanied
  5. after the meeting, the employer should decide on the appropriate action to be taken
  6. the employee should be given the right of appeal
If either party unreasonably fails or refuses to follow the Code of Practice, an Employment Tribunal may increase or reduce any award made by up to 25% as appropriate.

So what do you need to do? Ensure that you have, in writing, a disciplinary and grievance procedure in line with the ACAS Code of Practice.

Remember – you don’t have to prove that an offence took place, or even satisfy yourself beyond all reasonable doubt that your employee committed the act in question. Your function is to act reasonably in coming to your decision.

Finally, ask us to ensure you have a well written document to ensure you follow the guidelines above and remember, no company that has followed our advice has successfully been taken to a Tribunal.

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