Managing Discipline

Handling disciplinary issues can be a minefield and all too often managers get it wrong. They either fail to deal with the problem for fear of making a mistake or do not follow the correct procedure.

Informal resolution

It’s always best to try to resolve minor issues informally in the first instance. Simply by making the employee aware of the problem may help to resolve it immediately. This can be the case with absence management, for example – the employee may not realise how many days they have been off work until they see the facts in front of them. Equally, they may think their absence has gone unnoticed.

Formal disciplinary action

If the informal route does not resolve the problem or if the disciplinary offence is serious, formal action will need to be taken in line with the Disciplinary Policy. This should include a reasonable investigation by an independent manager, and a hearing to enable the company to present the evidence and the employee to defend their actions.

The employee must be allowed to invite an appropriate representative to accompany them and the manager should have an independent note-taker.

The disciplinary decision should be confirmed only after a reasonable adjournment to enable careful consideration of all the evidence. The outcome must be set out in writing and the employee must be given the right of appeal.

Disciplinary policy

Your Disciplinary Policy should be clear and understood by all employees. It should incorporate the standards set out in the Acas Code of Practice: Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, which is one of the benchmarks used by a tribunal to determine the fairness of a dismissal.

Those responsible for implementing the Disciplinary Policy in your business must be trained to ensure they apply it correctly and consistently. Failure to do so may result in an employment tribunal claim, which, win or lose, will incur costs.

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