Taking formal disciplinary action can be one of the hardest and most stressful things to have to do. As well as being emotionally draining, it will take time and there are clear procedures that must be followed. The majority of claims to employment tribunals are still for unfair dismissal, and the majority of claims that are lost are because the right procedure was NOT followed.
Because of the time and procedures involved, many organisations don't address issues. They hope they will go away! This can be even more problematic as matters can escalate, and frustrations grow. It can have an impact on other employees and indeed the whole business!
There are steps you can take to try to avoid disciplinary situations arising in the first place, and strategies to try to resolve any matters informally first (see Avoiding Disciplinary Action). However, there will be times when this is not possible or appropriate, and you will need to follow the disciplinary procedure. This section provides full guidance and associated letters and documents.
The guidance and templates in this section will help you to prepare and manage all areas of a disciplinary.
Frequently asked questions
Yes. You need to be aware of all the facts so that you can make an informed and fair decision. Sometimes investigations will be very quick and just include gathering information (e.g. if someone is continually late for work, you need to gather the attendance records/dates when they were late). Other times, investigations may be more detailed and may involve having to interview other employees. Refer to the guidance on investigations for more details and examples.
By law, an employee can be accompanied by a colleague from the Company or a trade union representative (regardless of whether you recognise a trade union).
Under discrimination law, employers must make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees. This might mean allowing someone else to attend, as a reasonable adjustment, e.g. a support worker or someone with knowledge of the disability and its effects.
Where there is a language barrier, you should consider a reputable translator to avoid any misinterpretation.
There has been much recent discussion around the request and approval of legal representation at disciplinary stage, where allegations of Gross Misconduct are alleged and there is potential for dismissal. In circumstances such as Gross Misconduct employers should give careful consideration to their position in relation to this as the individual involved in the disciplinary process may request it. A recent appeal to the Supreme Court ruled that it would only be required in exceptional cases. Further advice should be sought regarding each individual case if the query of legal representation arises, as, a blanket response may not be appropriate.
The manager or a senior person should generally conduct a disciplinary meeting. You should refer to your own disciplinary procedure to see if it stipulates who will conduct meetings. Some procedures may stipulate that a number of people must hear a disciplinary (a panel) and you should always endeavour to follow your own procedure. Remember that if the employee appeals someone else will need to hear the appeal, so you should make sure another manager or senior person is not involved in the disciplinary hearing, so that they can independently hear any appeal.
Please see the sample disciplinary procedure and notes on managing disciplinary situations for further guidance.
2. Avoiding Disciplinary Action
Taking disciplinary action can be time-consuming and stressful (for everyone!). It is much better to avoid such situations arising in the first place and can make for a more positive working environment. Here we look at some strategies to help avoid disciplinary action.Read More