The UK employment law suggests all employers introduce staff disciplinary procedure at work. As employers, you have to inform your staff of the disciplinary procedure in place and also explain the examples of actions that will amount to staff disciplinary and/or dismissal.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) published guidance for employers on statutory disciplinary and grievance procedures. ACAS Code of Practice 1 provides details on how to draw up and operate a staff disciplinary procedure. The code provides reasonable steps of employers must follow in executing staff disciplinary process. It is also used as a guideline how reasonable you are as an employer if your employee brings a claim for unfair dismissal at the Employment Tribunals.
Generally, the statutory minimum steps you must follow in your staff disciplinary procedure is discussed below. However, your own disciplinary procedure may allow for more warnings, meetings. Other courses of action may include demotion and suspension.
Statutory Disciplinary Procedure
Step 1: Investigate To Establish Facts
Investigate the situation fully by talking to your staff concerned and any other staff who might be able to throw some light on the situation. Gather any evidence you can find including emails and letters. Interview any witnesses and take signed written statements from them if necessary.
Step 2: Invite The Employee Concern To An Investigatory Meeting
You must make it clear to them that the meeting is not part of a formal disciplinary procedure. The purpose of the meeting is to give them the opportunity to comment on the allegations.
Step 3: After The Investigatory Meeting
Should you think that a formal disciplinary hearing should be conducted then you must inform your staff concern in writing setting out the allegations include evidence supporting the allegations.
You must give your staff the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or a work colleague.
Step 4: Go Ahead With Formal Disciplinary Hearing
Explain your complaint and your evidence and give your staff the opportunity to state their case, ask questions, give evidence and call their witnesses.
Step 5: Your Decisions On The Disciplinary Hearing
If you decide on disciplinary action rather than dismissal, you should write to your staff spelling out what the misconduct is, what has to be done about it and the deadline. And explain the consequences if things don’t change – perhaps a final written warning and then the sack.
You must give your staff a copy of the disciplinary meeting notes soon after the meeting.
Step 6: Employee’s Right To Appeal
Try to get another person to chair the appeal hearing if possible. If this is not the option then try to be impartially as possible and don’t be afraid to overturn the previous decision. After the appeal, you have to let your staff know your final decision.
Failed To Follow Statutory Disciplinary Procedures
If you do not follow the basic disciplinary procedure and any claims against you by your staff will be considered automatic unfair dismissal and the employment tribunal can increase the compensation payable to your staff.
Only staff with more than a year of service are able to bring a claim at Employment Tribunals.