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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Member Blog: 5 Tips For Employers On Dealing With Disciplinary Action

By  Zee Hussain, Partner and Head of Corporate Services at Simpson Millar.

Zee shares some tips on how your business can effectively manage the disciplinary process.

  1. Have Clear Rules And Procedures In Place
Having clear, concise rules and detailed policies on appropriate conduct within the workplace not only provide standards of behaviour for staff to follow, they also ensure that employers handle certain situations consistently and fairly.
Whether you're reviewing your existing policies or plan on introducing new ones, it's a good idea to get the input of your staff – and their representatives if they have them – during the process.  
Sharing the policies with your staff as well as informing them about any changes or updates is also essential. Managers in particular and employees need to understand how to follow the process and know where they can find the policy if they ever need to refer to it.
If you have a different disciplinary procedure in place for staff on probation, information about this should be included in their contract of employment.

  1. Carry Out A Fair Investigation And Gather Evidence
If you believe that a member of staff has behaved inappropriately or breached a rule, it's important that you carry out an investigation as soon as possible and collect the right evidence to support your case.

It's not a good idea to leave a gap between the time of the event and following it up, as this could affect the strength of your case. The person who carries out the investigation should also be different from the individual who handles the disciplinary. This will, of course, depend on the nature of the matter and the seniority of the member of staff concerned, and also whether there is someone within your business who is in an appropriate position to handle the investigation.

In situations like this, you shouldn't draw any conclusions or take any action until the investigation has finished. If you're found to not have followed the right process this could get you in serious trouble if your employee decides to take legal action.

  1. Schedule A Meeting With The Employee  
Once your investigation comes to an end, a meeting must take place between the employee involved and the member of staff who carried out the investigation.

It's important that you send your employee a written invitation to the meeting, and you give them reasonable notice, for example around 3 working days.

As part of the invitation, you should:
  • Set out the allegations that have been made and the possible sanctions
  • Include any evidence to back up the allegations
  • Inform your employee that they have the right to bring witnesses to the meeting – if their witnesses are unable to attend, they can bring statements from them to the meeting 
  • Explain the procedure that will be followed

  1. Inform Your Employee About Their Right To Be Accompanied
Employees who have been asked to attend a disciplinary meeting have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or their trade union representative. If your employee wants to bring someone with them to the meeting, they should inform you about this as soon as possible.

If the individual can't attend the meeting on the date that has already been set, your employee can make a reasonable request for another date and time within 5 working days of the original date that was set.

  1. Draw A Fair Conclusion
Dealing with every case and employee consistently in situations like this is essential, as well as coming to a fair final decision.
Your conclusion must:
  • Refer to your business' existing policies and be consistent with any actions that you've previously taken
  • Provide detailed explanations and suggestions on how the issue can be resolved
  • Explain the process for appealing
Employees have the right to appeal against a decision made by their employer. If they choose to make an appeal, it should be handled by a member of staff who hasn't been involved in the disciplinary process and is able to deal with the matter objectively.
Your employee should explain the grounds for their appeal, and any new evidence presented by either your business or the employee should be taken into consideration. 
The outcome of the appeal must be in writing and a manager within the business will have to justify the decision that's made.

What Simpson Millar Can Do For Your Business

Disciplinary action is never easy for anyone involved, but having a straightforward process in place will make life a lot easier for both you and your employees.

Our Employment Law experts are well versed in helping businesses create effective policies and introduce new processes. If you need some advice or legal assistance, we're ready to lend a helping hand. 


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