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Tackling Disciplinary Issues the Right Way

In the workplace, conduct issues are common and need to be dealt with correctly and appropriately. If these issues are not dealt with this can have a damaging effect on your employees and business as a whole. It is crucial that employers are aware of all options open to them and pick the best route for their situation.

There are a number of reasons why an employer might want to take disciplinary action against an employee such as:

  • Employee behaviour, including punctuality and misconduct
  • Absence from work
  • Unsatisfactory standard of work

Our HR business partners, Fusion HR, advise the best way to deal with minor indiscretions is initially in an informal manner. There may be a simple explanation for your employee’s behaviour and approaching this issue informally is the best way to identify any alarm bells that may explain the issue.

In some circumstances, depending on the severity of the disciplinary issue, it may be best to instigate formal procedures straight away, as this may be the most appropriate course of action to address the issue.

Employers often have the idea that disciplinary procedures can be very time consuming, however if the issues are handled correctly, under the appropriate procedures and in a timely manner it can be concluded within a short timescale.

Step 1: Your Procedures

As an employer, you should have an easily accessible, up-to-date copy of your company disciplinary procedures. ACAS provides a set Code of Practice for employers which sets out the minimum standard that should be adhered to when handling disciplinary issues.

It is not compulsory that a company follows this Code of Practice, however companies should be aware that it may reflect badly if their procedures are not aligned with the Code of Practice.

Fusion suggests that you read the ACAS Code of Practice, as if the case reaches an employment tribunal you may be asked about this. Click here for the link.

Step 2: Inform the employee, invite to a meeting and confirm the outcome in writing

The employee should be made aware in writing of the complaint against them, this should clarify the problem and also information regarding a meeting to discuss the matter with at least 24 hours’ notice. The employee should also be informed that they are allowed to be accompanied during the meeting.

 Both employee and employer should be allowed time to reflect after the meeting to avoid rash decisions. After a decision has been made by the employer, the employee will need to be notified of the decision in writing.

The following responses may be appropriate after a disciplinary meeting:

  • No further action taken and the case to be closed
  • A mutually agreed plan to resolve the issue
  • Written warning/information over future conduct
  • Final warning
  • Demotion from current role
  • Dismissal from company

Step 3: Appeal

All employees should be given the right to appeal a decision. Employers will need to be informed in writing if an employee wishes to appeal however they do not need to provide the reason why they have chosen to appeal.  

It is not compulsory for an employee to appeal, in order to have the chance to take their case to an employment tribunal, but they may find this to be beneficial in relation to compensation.

In the case of an appeal, a hearing will need to be organised preferably involving a more senior member of staff. The employee must be again made aware that they have the option to be accompanied. Following the hearing, the employer will need to inform the employee in writing of the final decision.

If you would like assistance or advice from a member of the Fusion team to help address conduct matters please give us a call on 01254 355688.

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