It is important for employers to have an up to date disciplinary procedure and grievance process in place. The disciplinary process can be a stressful time for both parties and having a clearly outlined course of action to follow will help both sides. Before entering a disciplinary hearing, the employee is advised to seek advice from an employment lawyer.
Employers should ensure they have fit for purpose disciplinary procedures at work. These should be reviewed on a regular basis to move with changing business needs and employment practice. Employers and employees need to know; do the procedures have contractual effect, do they apply to all employees and what rights does each party have. For peace of mind, a specialist employment law team can be used to draft and review the process.
Advice for Employers
The best way to ensure your company is following the correct disciplinary procedures in the UK is to seek legal advice. Get a competent employment lawyer team to draft or review your current procedures. ACAS has produced guidance on disciplinary procedures. Generally, at its most basic a minimum disciplinary procedure includes the following:-
- A letter clearly stating the reasons for the disciplinary action
- A meeting to discuss the reasons for proceedings
- The disciplinary decision
- A chance for the employee to appeal against the decision
As an employer you have the right to lay down your own disciplinary procedures in a contract, or Staff Handbook. You have the right to suspend the employee, but this needs to be undertaken with care. Suspension is almost always on full pay to adhere with employment rights.
Following investigation of any disciplinary issue, make sure the employee is given copies of relevant evidence in order that he or she can put his or her side of the story. A ‘hearing’ should be arranged before any disciplinary sanctions are decided, at a mutually convenient time when both parties are fully prepared and allowing the employee rights of accompaniment.
Advice for Employees
It is important for you seek advice before entering into a disciplinary hearing. Talk to a specialist employment lawyer, the citizen’s advice bureau or your Trade Union Official if you have one. You cannot usually take a legal representative into internal proceedings, but can be accompanied by a colleague or Trade Union Official.
Make sure you have access to the employer’s disciplinary procedure and observe whether protocol is being followed. You need to receive a letter outlining the reasons for the hearing, have a disciplinary meeting to discuss the claims and get a chance to appeal the decision if you wish to do so. If these procedures are not followed and you’re dismissed, you may have the right to make an unfair dismissal claim.
If your employer does not follow contractual disciplinary procedures stated, you have the right to sue for breach of contract. If you are suspended awaiting investigation, you are likely to have the right to receive full pay until the matter is resolved. Make sure you receive copies of any information gathered during the investigation and that a hearing is arranged with enough time for you to prepare. You have the right to take witnesses in or produce witness statements in the hearing.
If you need advice or support in the disciplinary/grievance process, give the team at Davies and Partners and Solicitors a call.