Employers are obliged by law to provide employees with information about disciplinary and grievance procedures. These procedures must be in line with the ACAS Code of Practice.
It is imperative that employers adhere to disciplinary procedures in relation to verbal and written warnings and dismissal, if they wish to avoid a claim of unfair dismissal or wish to move towards a dismissal.
The disciplinary procedure should include information about the steps that the employer must follow. These steps will include the following:
- Investigate: investigation must be reasonable in all of the circumstances of the case and carried out without delay and impartially. It may be advisable to hold an investigation meeting with the employee prior to deciding whether further disciplinary action is necessary;
- Does the matter warrant further action. Consider whether the allegation can be dealt with informally prior to instigating a formal procedure;
- Consider suspension. Suspension should only be used an a tool for investigation and not as a punitive measure. The employee should be notified of suspension and relevant terms in contract in writing;
- Write to employee setting out allegations in writing, notifying them of the date, time and place of meeting and their right to bring a companion (only entitled to have a colleague or trade union representative present). The letter should also set out potential outcome of the meeting but the decision should not be made in advance of the meeting;
- Hold disciplinary meeting in order to go through the allegations and evidence obtained and to take the employee’s side of things. Have a note taker present;
- Provide the outcome in writing along with the right of appeal;
- If employee appeals send a letter inviting to an appeal meeting with an independent person and hold appeal meeting.
It is really important that as a minimum when dealing with disciplinary and grievances that the employer is aware of and follows the Acas Code of Practice. The Code can be found here.