Disciplinary and grievance procedures during the pandemic

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Legislation relating to disciplinary and grievance procedures and the Acas Code of Practice still apply during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The most important thing for an employer to remember is to consider whether or not it is fair and reasonable to continue with a disciplinary or grievance process whilst employees are either working remotely from home, furloughed or in the workplace following social distancing guidelines, etc.

Obviously, any procedure that you decide to carry out has to be undertaken following all the public health guidelines and rules around which business premises can be open.

This is a stressful process at the best of times and with all the other stresses and concerns that employees may currently be facing, it is vital that employers give serious consideration to the health and wellbeing of the employees involved before deciding on whether or not to proceed at this time.

Discuss your thoughts with all involved and explain your decision and the reasons for it to everyone.

If an employee is on furlough leave they can still take part in a disciplinary or grievance investigation or hearing, providing they are doing it out of their own choice, ie voluntarily and it takes place in line with the current public health guidelines if:
  • they are required to be interviewed as part of an investigation in a disciplinary matter
  • they have raised a grievance
  • they are chairing a disciplinary or grievance hearing
  • they are acting as note taker
  • they are a witness
  • they have been chosen by a colleague to accompany them at a hearing.
In workplaces that are open, the meeting can take place provided it is a safe place in terms of social distancing and there is privacy.

For people working from home or on furlough, employers should consider the specific circumstances of the individual. Do they have the facilities at home for a telephone or video conference meeting in terms of a suitably private room, internet connection and IT equipment to enable the procedure to take place in a fair and reasonable way.

The right to be accompanied will still apply so arrangements must be made to enable that.

Does this really have to happen now or could it wait?

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