Disciplinary Procedures Explained

Dylan Loughlin

Disciplinary procedures are used to help support and manage issues surrounding the conduct of an employee or poor performance. Creating and implementing a disciplinary policy helps set the standards of conduct expected from staff and provides guidelines within which managers can work with employees to maintain satisfactory standards of conduct and to encourage improvement where necessary.

The disciplinary policy needs to ensure that any disciplinary matter is dealt with fairly and steps are taken to establish the facts and to give employees the opportunity to respond before taking any formal action.

The disciplinary procedure applies to employees who have at least one years’ continuous employment with the company. Employees with less service who commit an offence or whose performance falls below the standard required may be liable, at the management’s discretion, to dismissal where appropriate.

Failure to implement a robust disciplinary procedure can have legal consequences for the employer. For example, if an employer dismisses an employee without following a disciplinary process, it could result in a tribunal on the grounds of unfair dismissal. The Labour Relations Agency have devised a Code of Practice in respect of disciplinary and grievance procedures. This is a ‘what good looks like’ document that employers are expected to follow as a best practice approach. Additionally, this document is used within the tribunal courts as guidance.

The disciplinary procedure can be either informal or formal depending on the nature of the conduct or performance. However, if the disciplinary warrants formal action, the 3-step process must be adhered to. This is a statutory right for all employees and will protect you against potential tribunal claims.

Formal Disciplinary Procedure (3 step process)

1. Invitation to Meeting

Formally invite the employee to a disciplinary hearing. Outline the allegations against them, the potential outcome for that type of misconduct and their right to be accompanied to the meeting.

2. Meeting

Conduct the disciplinary hearing, giving the employee the opportunity to respond to the allegations against them. After the meeting, inform the individual in writing of the decision and their right to appeal.

3. Appeal

If the individual wishes to appeal they need to inform you within 5 working days. You will need to invite the individual to a further hearing to discuss the appeal. Following this hearing, the final decision must be communicated to the individual.

It is important when conducting a disciplinary meeting to take a fair and consistent approach, listen to the employee, and make a decision based on the facts established through a thorough investigation and the disciplinary meeting.

If you would like any further guidance, feel free to contact me or a member of the Copacetic Team.

Lisa Bloodworth – People & Safety Consultant

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