The most important provisions governing discipline and grievances at work are found in the Employment Act 2008 and Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2008. (A list of other important examples is given at the end of these Q&As.) As explained below, the Acas Code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures is also of importance.

The Employment Act doesn’t apply to Northern Ireland. Disciplinary, grievance and dismissal resources specific to Northern Ireland are provided by nidirect and the Labour Relations Agency.

Employers and employees should do all they can to resolve disciplinary and grievance issues themselves and should use a third party (for example a mediator or an arbitrator) to help resolve the problem. There is a requirement for Acas early conciliation in most cases – the employment tribunal ought to be a last resort.

How important is it to treat employees consistently when dealing with disciplinary and grievance matters?

What should a dismissal, disciplinary and grievance procedure policy contain?

Does a disciplinary procedure have to be followed before warning an employee or suspending them on full pay?

What should an employer do in a disciplinary or grievance situation?

Which communications should an employer treat as a grievance?

How should an employer deal with a complaint of bullying?

Can employers investigate bullying and harassment on the basis of anonymous evidence?

Can action be taken against several employees when it cannot be determined who was at fault?

How far can an employer take into account misconduct that occurs off-duty?

Should a disciplinary decision be made by an employee’s manager, a more senior manager or by HR?

What information should an employer give to an employee before the disciplinary or grievance meeting?

What must an employer do to follow the Acas code?

What happens if the Acas code is not followed?

What is the role of witnesses and witness statements at a disciplinary or grievance meeting?

What is the role of the companion?

Can a party insist on a recording of the disciplinary or grievance meetings?

What if an employee fails to attend a disciplinary or grievance meeting?

Can an employee be summarily dimissed for gross misconduct?

If an employee is dismissed for gross misconduct but subsequently proves their innocence, will they succeed in an unfair dismissal claim?

Future developments

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