Disciplinary procedures

Overview

Helen Rice-Birchall, Eversheds Last Modified  14 July 2015

Disciplinary rules and procedures underpin the employment relationship, providing an employer with an opportunity to set out clear rules about the way its employees should behave and the standards it expects of them.
This section provides information on:
  • disciplinary rules and procedures
  • the fair handling of disciplinary issues
  • the rules of natural justice
  • the overlap between capability and disciplinary issues and
  • the overlap between disciplinary and grievance procedures.
All employees must have a written statement of terms and conditions of employment which must contain disciplinary rules and procedures or refer the employee to some other easily accessible document containing those rules and procedures.

Key points

  • The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures "provides basic practical guidance to employers, employees and their representatives and sets out principles for handling disciplinary ...situations in the workplace." It is advisable that written disciplinary procedures, and disciplinary proceedings, comply with the code.
  • Although a failure to follow the code does not make an employer liable to legal proceedings in itself, employment tribunals will take the code into account when considering relevant cases.
  • Many disciplinary issues can be resolved informally with a quiet word. However, where informal resolution is not possible, then a disciplinary procedure will set out the appropriate way to deal with the issue.
  • Most disciplinary procedures allow for verbal, written and final warnings before dismissal is considered. However, it may also specify that certain conduct is so serious that it will be considered as gross misconduct and will justify summary dismissal (without warnings or notice).
  • Before holding a disciplinary hearing and deciding on the appropriate sanction in any given case, the facts of the case must be properly investigated. The more serious the matter is, the more extensive those investigations should be.
  • No disciplinary action should be taken until the employee has had an opportunity to give his or her side of the story.
  • An employee who is disciplined should always be given the right to appeal against that decision.