This procedure is for managers disciplining a staff member or contractor. See also the Grievance Procedure for staff who wish to raise a complaint.
This procedure is designed to help and encourage all employees to achieve and maintain standards of conduct, attendance and job performance. The company rules (a copy of which is shared online) and this procedure apply to all employees, and to contractors whilst working for the Company. The aim is to ensure consistent and fair treatment for all in the organisation.
- Our first priority is the well-being of the people involved (which includes the staff member being disciplined, though not at the expense of any victims).
- If possible, disciplinary measures should be corrective rather than punitive.
- Informal action will be considered, where appropriate, to resolve problems.
- No disciplinary action will be taken against an employee until the case has been fully investigated, except for reasonable actions to protect other employees.
- For formal action the employee will be advised of the nature of the complaint against him or her and will be given the opportunity to state his or her case before any decision is made at a disciplinary meeting.
- Employees will be provided, where appropriate, with written copies of evidence and relevant witness statements in advance of a disciplinary meeting. However this may be restricted to protect the identity of colleagues contributing to the process.
- At all stages of the procedure the employee will have the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative, or work colleague.
- No employee will be dismissed for a first breach of discipline except in the case of gross misconduct, when the penalty can be dismissal without notice or payment in lieu of notice.
- An employee will have the right to appeal against any disciplinary action.
- The procedure may be implemented at any stage if the employee's alleged misconduct warrants this.
Often, a formal disciplinary process is not needed. A manager may simply speak to the person, and agree some changes. Such informal discipline may be noted down for audit trails and performance reviews, but will not lead to disciplinary action such as dismissal without first following the formal procedure below.
If another staff member (or other stakeholder) was affected, then it is important that they do not feel the issue was ignored.
So for these cases, best practice is to give a brief communication to the affected people. This should be as non-judgemental as possible, whilst establishing expected good behaviour. For example, if someone was rude, then their manager might apologise to the recipient, or if someone was unhelpful, then their manager might send a more helpful reply.
A manager may start the displinary procedure, either as the result of a grievance procedure investigation, or because they decide the circumstances merit it. An investigation is not needed. If the person being discplined feels that the treatment is unfair, they can appeal (see below).
The first stage will normally be either:
- An improvement note for unsatisfactory performance, if performance does not meet acceptable standards. This will set out the performance problem, the improvement that is required, the timescale, any help that may be given and the right of appeal. The individual will be advised that it constitutes the first stage of the formal procedure. A record of the improvement note will be kept for 18 months, but will then be considered spent - subject to achieving and sustaining satisfactory performance
- A first warning for misconduct, if conduct does not meet acceptable standards. This will be in writing and set out the nature of the misconduct and the change in behaviour required and the right of appeal. The warning will also inform the employee that a final written warning may be considered if there is no sustained satisfactory improvement or change. A record of the warning will be kept, but it will be disregarded for disciplinary purposes after a specified period (18 months).
If the offence is sufficiently serious, or if there is further misconduct or a failure to improve performance during the currency of a prior warning, a final written warning may be given to the employee. This will give details of the complaint, the improvement required and the timescale. It will also warn that failure to improve may lead to dismissal (or some other action short of dismissal) and will refer to the right of appeal. A copy of this written warning will be kept by the supervisor but will be disregarded for disciplinary purposes after 18 months subject to achieving and sustaining satisfactory conduct or performance.
If there is still further misconduct or failure to improve performance the final step in the procedure may be dismissal or some other action short of dismissal such as demotion or disciplinary suspension or transfer (as allowed in the contract of employment, or mutually agreed with the worker). Dismissal decisions can only be taken by a senior manager in the line-chain for the employee, and the employee will be provided in writing with reasons for dismissal, the date on which the employment will terminate, and the right of appeal.
If some sanction short of dismissal is imposed, the employee will receive details of the complaint, will be warned that dismissal could result if there is no satisfactory improvement, and will be advised of the right of appeal. A copy of the written warning will be kept by the supervisor but will be disregarded for disciplinary purposes after 18 months subject to achievement and sustainment of satisfactory conduct or performance.
The following list provides some examples of offences which are normally regarded as gross misconduct:
- theft (excluding very minor cases, such as taking a small amount of stationary) or fraud
- physical violence or bullying
- deliberate and serious damage to property
- serious misuse of an organisation's property or name
- deliberately accessing internet sites containing pornographic, offensive or obscene material whilst at work
- serious insubordination
- unlawful discrimination or harassment
- bringing the organisation into serious disrepute
- serious incapability at work brought on by alcohol or illegal drugs
- causing loss, damage or injury through serious negligence
- a serious breach of health and safety rules
- a serious breach of confidence
If you are accused of an act of gross misconduct, you may be suspended from work on full pay, normally for no more than five working days, while the alleged offence is investigated. If, on completion of the investigation and the full disciplinary procedure, the organisation is satisfied that gross misconduct has occurred, the result will normally be summary dismissal without notice or payment in lieu of notice.
An employee can appeal against a disciplinary action. They must do so within five working days, in writing or email to their manager. A panel of two senior managers will be appointed to hear the appeal, and their decision is final. At the appeal any disciplinary penalty imposed will be reviewed (which could lead to it being reduced or increased).
If the employee feels they are being bullied or otherwise mistreated by their manager, then they can raise a complaint. Please see the Grievance Procedure for details.
Note: Based on ACAS template "Sample basic disciplinary procedure"