Disciplinary action

If an employee has breached your procedures or is demonstrating a poor standard of work or behaviour, it may be necessary to raise your concerns with them directly. If left unaddressed, the problem could escalate and the employee’s performance may deteriorate further and impact on the performance of their colleagues or the overall business.

There could be a simple reason or it could suggest something more serious is going on that the employee needs help with, but either way having supportive conversation is an important first step to try and resolve the problem.

Most disciplinary procedures will also recommend informal discussions in the first instance and even if you do not have your own procedure in place, you are required to follow the requirements of the ACAS Code of Practice [LINK – Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures | Acas].

When should an employer take formal disciplinary action?

If you have tried to raise your concerns with the employee informally and there was no resolution or if the incident was sufficiently serious, you may decide to take formal disciplinary action against that employee.

There are a number of stages to a formal disciplinary process, which should include:

  1. Investigation – to decide whether formal action is necessary and if so, the employee should be told of the issues in writing and invited to a hearing (and they have the right to be accompanied).
  2. Hearing – the issues should be reviewed, the employee’s responses fully considered and formal decision made where possible (or further meeting scheduled where necessary).
  3. Outcome Letter – warnings, performance improvement plans, dismissals are all possible outcomes that should be confirmed in writing.
  4. Appeal – the final letter should confirm the employee has the right to appeal against the decision made.

How can our employment team help?

It is crucial that fair and clear procedures are in place so that you have clear steps to follow to have the confidence to address problems when they arise. Our lawyers are experienced in drafting procedures that reflect the standards of various businesses and also meet the requirements of the ACAS Code of Practice.

In addition, we can help guide you through the steps of a disciplinary process, including drafting the appropriate letters and providing advice on the possible outcomes. We would also consider with you the potential risks of litigation with taking certain steps or the option of offering an agreed exit under a settlement agreement.

These notes are for general comment only, so please do contact our team for specific advice on your situation on 01635 508084/508080, by visiting our employment page for employers or contacting [email protected].

Our Employment Law Team

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