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Disciplinary ProceduresWhy Have a Disciplinary Procedure?
Disciplinary rules and procedures are important in any workplace and set out boundaries of acceptable conduct and satisfactory performance. It ensures that all employees who step over these boundaries are treated fairly.
ACAS has had a Code of Practice on Disciplinary Procedures since 1977. A revised version of the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures came into effect on 6 April 2009. An employers failure to follow the provisions of the Code may result in an award of Unfair Dismissal by an Employment Tribunal.
It is important that employees know what standards of conduct and performance are expected of them. The written particulars of employment that must be provided to every employee, under the provision of the Employment Rights Act 1996, should contain any disciplinary rules that are in place. There is no small employer exemption.
Carrying out a disciplinary process must be done reasonably. Tribunals have a set idea of what they feel a reasonable process should follow and will also consider whether or not any sanction granted was appropriate. Each matter will need to be looked at on a case by case basis, but will always involve a process. This should be set out in your own policies and procedures and is usually the first port of call. However in cases where employers are unsure as to whether disciplinary action is necessary or appropriate, legal advice should be sought.
A disciplinary procedure should be in writing and to comply with the revised ACAS Code should:
*Ensure no action is taken until the matter has been properly investigated.
*Provide for employees to be sufficiently informed of the complaint 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.
*Provide for a formal disciplinary meeting to be held at which the complaint against them is explained by the employer, who should go through the evidence that has been gathered.
*Allow the employee to be given the opportunity to state their case, ask questions, present evidence and call relevant witnesses before any decision is reached.
*Summarise the types of disciplinary action that might be taken and give relevant examples, particularly for what might be considered gross misconduct.
*State the level of management that has authority to take various forms of disciplinary action.
*Provide for all matters to be dealt with as quickly as possible.
*Ensure that, except for gross misconduct, no employees are dismissed for a first breach of discipline.
*Set out an employees right to be accompanied at disciplinary and appeal meetings by a fellow employee or trade union official.
*Ensure employees are told in writing of the outcome of the meeting and are given 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.
Employment Law Support 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.