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Lovewell Blake’s HR team provide a guide to disciplinary procedures

A guide to disciplinary procedures

By: Helen Busfield, HR Team Date: 29 May 2018
Category: Article,HR

As an employer, one of the most daunting issues you can face is instigating disciplinary procedures. However, if you follow a clear, documented process, it can help alleviate concerns. It is important your contracts of employment and disciplinary procedures are clear, concise and communicated effectively across your organisation so everyone knows what to expect at each stage.

Informal process
Often when minor disciplinary matters are dealt with early and informally, more formal procedures become unnecessary, if, however, there is no improvement following an informal meeting you still have the ability to address the issue more formally.

Follow clear procedures
If a formal disciplinary process becomes necessary, you must act quickly to deal with issues and not unreasonably delay any investigations, hearings or decisions.

Your disciplinary procedure should be clearly detailed for staff. Your process might include a series of verbal or written warnings, a disciplinary hearing, a final written warning and dismissal.

Importantly, the disciplinary procedure should set out what types of behaviour would lead to disciplinary action; for example:
  • what an act of gross misconduct might be
  • what actions you would consider serious enough to dismiss an employee without first giving them a verbal or written warning.

You need to carry out a fair and impartial investigation of a disciplinary matter to establish the facts before a hearing. You must also clearly notify the employee of the nature of the alleged misconduct or under-performance, warning them of the possible outcomes before a hearing. This is so that the employee has a fair chance to prepare their evidence and to defend themselves against the accusation.

You must also make it clear before the hearing that your employee has the right to be accompanied at a hearing, and the right to request an appeal if they disagree with your decision.

During the hearing you should provide the employee with the evidence that substantiates your claim, as well as allowing them the opportunity to present their own evidence as well as giving them the opportunity to fully answer questions you may have.

We would also advise that you adjourn the hearing to evaluate all evidence before deciding on the outcome of the disciplinary.

Keep written records
It is best practice to keep written records of all disciplinary issues. Record-keeping is vital to ensure you have all the information available when making decisions. It also evidences what actions have been taken if you’re later faced with an employment tribunal.

Ensure you’re informed about the law
It is imperative that you not only adhere to your own policy, but that you act within law. If you need up to date advice or assistance with disciplinary procedures, call our experienced HR Consultants on 01603 663300.
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