As an employer, it is good practice to have disciplinary and grievance procedures in place. Whether an employee is not performing well in their role or has made a complaint about the way they have been treated, it is important to have clear procedures that ensure appropriate action is taken. These workplace issues can be difficult and stressful to manage. Our employment lawyers can provide professional, tailored advice that will help you resolve these issues quickly and effectively.
What are disciplinary and grievance procedures?
Disciplinary procedures are put in place to govern the steps an employer should follow where an employee is performing unsatisfactorily or their behaviour is unprofessional. Grievance procedures, on the other hand, set out the process for dealing with employees’ concerns, problems and complaints.
Your disciplinary and grievance procedures should be made available to all staff in writing. They can be included in a company handbook or attached to the contract of employment. You should follow the Acas Code on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures when producing your internal procedures. If you do not follow the code, this could negatively affect your position if the issue ends up before an employment tribunal.
By instructing Scott-Moncrieff & Associates Ltd, you will receive trusted professional advice and guidance on all areas of disciplinary and grievance procedures, from formation to implementation.
Disciplinary procedures in England and Wales
Before an employer takes any action against an employee, it is important that they establish the facts of each individual case. This will involve an investigative process, for example involving interviews with the employee and/or their colleagues to allow them to give their view on the situation.
If, after the investigatory process, it is decided that disciplinary procedures will be initiated, the employer is required to notify the employee in writing of this fact. This notice should contain sufficient information regarding the alleged misconduct or substandard performance and any possible consequences, to enable the employee to prepare their answer to the allegations.
The notification should also give any details regarding the scheduling of a disciplinary meeting, which should be held without reasonable delay, yet giving the employee time to prepare their response.
The meeting is the chance for the employer to explain the complaint against the employee using the evidence they have compiled. The employee should be allowed to set out their case, answering any allegations and using their own evidence and witnesses if required. It should be noted that the employee has the right to be accompanied at the meeting with a fellow worker, a trade union representative or an official employed by a trade union.
After the meeting, it is then appropriate to decide whether to take disciplinary action or not. Either way, the decision must be confirmed to the employee by a written statement. Where misconduct is confirmed, it may be appropriate to issue the employee with a written warning, or if the conduct is sufficiently serious, a final written warning. Such warnings should indicate the reasons for the decision and what actions the employee can take to rectify their conduct. Decisions to dismiss can only be taken by management with the authority to do so. Investigations should always occur before dismissal, except in situations of gross misconduct when dismissal can be effective immediately, with the investigation and disciplinary process beginning after dismissal.
Finally, the employee should be given the opportunity to appeal the decision if they feel the decision was wrong or unjustified. Employees must make their grounds of appeal known to the employer in writing before the hearing.
Grievance procedures in England and Wales
Grievance procedures should only be used when informal discussions have failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion. The employee should raise their grievance with management and a meeting should be planned in accordance with the company’s grievance policy. Like the disciplinary process, the employee has the right to be accompanied at the meeting with a fellow worker, a trade union representative or an official employed by a trade union.
Following the meeting, and after hearing the dispute from all the relevant persons involved, a decision should be taken by the employer on how to resolve the grievance and this should be communicated to the concerned employees in writing, setting out the actions that will be taken to resolve the issue. If an employee does not feel the decided resolution is satisfactory, they are entitled to appeal against the decision.
Grievances can sometimes be raised by numerous employees. These are referred to as collective grievances – where a group of employees complain to their employer about the same or similar thing and their dispute is held collectively.
UK employment tribunals
In the event an employee feels the disciplinary or grievance procedures were not handled to a sufficient standard, they are entitled to make a claim to an employment tribunal. Employment tribunals usually hear cases on dismissals and discrimination. The process will often be initiated with a preliminary hearing to establish the facts of the case. If the employer is found to be at fault, compensation may be payable to the employee.
Expert Disciplinary and Grievance Advice in England and Wales
It is important to have clear and transparent disciplinary and grievance procedures in place. Every business will deal with a dispute, and when this happens you will need pragmatic legal advice to ensure your position is protected. If your guidelines are non-existent or not sufficiently drafted, you will be increasing the likelihood of extensive fines from an employment tribunal.
Scott-Moncrieff and Associates Employment Team have the experience and expertise to advise you on all aspects of the disciplinary and grievance procedures, from drafting, acting and if applicable, representation at the employment tribunal. We take a no-nonsense and straight talking approach to find the most cost-effective and pragmatic solution to suit our client’s needs. We understand the impact disciplinary tribunals can have on your business so our experienced lawyers will help you at all stages of the disciplinary process with a pro-active attitude, always remaining one step ahead of the process.
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