On the 6th April 2009 a Disciplinary and Grievance code was introduced to manage disciplinary and grievance procedures in the workplace. The new code is less prescriptive than the one it replaces and relies more heavily on all parties acting reasonably with fairness, transparency and a certain amount of commonsense. Failure to follow the code can be taken into account by Employment Tribunals who can adjust awards up or down by up to 25% in appropriate cases. The following brief summary may be useful.
A. Disciplinary Issues
i) Establish the facts
The first task for an Employer is to establish the facts of the case, possibly by holding an investigatory meeting with the Employee. Sometimes this will not be necessary.
ii) Inform the Employee
If the Employer decides that there is a case to answer the Employee should be told in writing as soon as possible and invited to attend a meeting. The letter inviting the Employee to the meeting must contain sufficient information about the issues or case that has been raised and the possible consequences. The Employee must be given sufficient time to prepare and answer the complaint at the meeting.
iii) Meeting between the Employee and the Employer
Once the issues have been clarified a formal meeting should take place when they are discussed. It is important that nobody is taken by surprise at the meeting so advance warning should be given of the issues to be discussed, any paperwork that is to be looked at and any witnesses that are to be called. The Employee has the right to be accompanied in most cases by a work colleague, a Trade Union representative or a Trade Union official.
iv) The Outcome
It might be that no action is justified or that a warning of some sort should be delivered. If there is to be a warning it should set out the problem that has been identified and the steps required and timescale in which the problem should be addressed. If the complaint is so serious that dismissal is warranted then the letter must contain the reasons for the dismissal.
Employees should always be given the right to appeal. The appeal should be requested in writing and the letter should state the reasons why the Employee thinks that the decision is unfair.
The appeal should be heard by somebody not involved in the process to that point. The result should be set out in writing and the Employee told as soon as possible.
If an Employee has a grievance both the Employer and the Employee should try to deal with this informally in the first instance but if that is not possible then a formal procedure should be followed.
i) Identifying the Grievance
The Employee should prepare a letter setting out their grievance and (in appropriate cases) identifying what steps they think could or should be taken to resolve this.
ii) Meet the Employer
A meeting should then take place as soon as possible. The Employee has the right to be accompanied at the meeting by a work colleague, Trade Union representative or Trade Union official. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the grievance. It is important that nobody is taken by surprise at the meeting so documents or items that are to be considered should have been disclosed before the meeting takes place.
iii) The Decision
Once a decision has been made on the grievance it should be recorded in writing and the Employee told as soon as possible.
If the grievance is not upheld then there should be an appeal process. Any appeal should be started by a letter setting out the reasons why the outcome is considered unfair and the appeal should be considered by the Employer as quickly as possible, preferably somebody who has not been involved to that point.
The outcome of the appeal should be communicated in writing to the Employee as soon as possible.