Dealing with any disciplinary process, from a small issue to a gross misconduct allegation, can be costly, time consuming and will be disruptive to your business. Also Employment Law is a complicated and an ever changing subject, which can lead to a situation that can give rise to an employee making a complaint to a tribunal regarding how they have been treated at work.
Disciplinary hearings must be carried out correctly, as an employer’s failure to conduct a fair process can result in an employee making a successful claim for unfair dismissal if they are sacked as a result. Regardless of if there is a justified reason to reach such an outcome, the dismissal will still be unfair if the disciplinary process conducted is unfair. The importance of ensuring a disciplinary process is thorough and reasonable cannot be underestimated.
In conducting a fair disciplinary process and avoiding the risk of an unfair dismissal claim there are some key steps an employer must take:
The employer should write to the employee and formally invite the individual to attend a disciplinary hearing.
The employee should be given reasonable time to consider the allegations and prepare their case for the hearing. What is considered reasonable time to prepare is not clearly defined by the ACAS Code. Best practice is 48-hours although if it is a comprehensive investigation then more time is recommended.
Prior to the hearing the employee should be provided with all of the details of the allegations and evidence that the employer intends to consider at the hearing.
The employee should be informed of the potential outcomes of the hearing and warned if dismissal is possible.
The employee should be told of their statutory right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or colleague at the hearing.
If the employee is disabled, consideration should be given as to if any reasonable adjustments might be necessary.
Our experienced advisors are on your side, we are here to provide you with a practical solution to minimise the cost and disruption to your business.