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Essential tips for managers and employees handling a disciplinary - www.expansa.co.uk
www.expansa.co.uk
Jun 14

Essential tips for managers and employees handling a disciplinary

Disciplinary action is unpleasant for all involved. The employer is in the difficult position of addressing problems with an employee in a manner that best suits the issue and the employee in question. Employees will quite naturally feel very defensive if singled out for disciplinary action. This can affect their attitude, productivity and even their health. Better understanding the proceedings is useful for both parties. It ensures that the employers act fairly and professionally and the employee feels they have been treated fairly. In this blog we’ll look at some key tips for both parties on either side of the disciplinary table.

Is there a case for disciplinary action?

The employer should first establish if there is reasonable evidence to support disciplinary action. There’s no legal requirement to have an informal chat with the employee in question but doing so can help to avoid stressful formal action. Many people respond well to a simple reminder of company policy. If poor conduct continues or the situation demands immediate disciplinary action then a formal process should follow.

Correct procedure

Matters of discipline in the workplace should follow 3 official steps:

  1. A letter, outlining the issue and stating a formal notice of disciplinary action including the reason why. In order to make the transgression very clear the employer/manager should elaborate on the correct behaviour expected e.g. prompt arrival at work, appropriate use of office communication channels etc. This letter may also reference specific company procedures. You must give the employee at least 3 days notice of the upcoming hearing/meeting.
  2. A follow up meeting to discuss the contents of the letter and the issue at hand. This meeting will be the basis for a decision regarding the employee’s continuing employment and/or measures necessary to address the employee’s failures regarding company policy as well as the required actions on their part to prove his or her commitment to following all company policies. A member of HR should always be present. The employee may also request the presence of a colleague or Union representative or in some circumstances a family member.
  3. A letter communicating the decision made by the employer and/or HR official to the employee. This can be a summary of the meeting above or can contain additional decisive action. There should be a clear summary of the original issue, an outline of measures that the employer will now take and any action expected of the employee.

After these primary steps it could go further if the employee is unhappy with the final outcome, which case they can appeal, or the employee continues to present a problem leading to further action up to point of dismissal.

When to appeal

Every employee has the right to appeal. The employer, manager or HR official should make this clear to the staff member is question. This helps to alleviate a sense of victimisation and may give the employee the confidence to appeal if they feel the initial process was inadequate.

Knowing if you should appeal is another matter. While appeals should be dealt with quickly it is also worth taking the time to really consider the decisions made. Do you really think the decision was incorrect? Are you seeking a change in policies? What outcome do you think would be fair? Here’re a few examples of situations where appeals should be sought:

  • There’s new evidence which could potentially support you.
  • You feel the disciplinary decision is inconsistent with the transgression or that your case has been handled differently to a similar disciplinary matter.
  • The decision makers were biased.

Appeals should always be formally requested via letter, stating a reason for the appeal.

To remove the possibility of bias and in order to best reach a fair decision someone not previously involved in the action should now deal with the case.

Continuing with everyday work

Unless the employee has been suspended pending a disciplinary hearing they will usually be obligated to continue with their day-to-day job. Suspension of an employee should have clear reason. The employee shouldn’t be prevented from communicating with colleagues. Whether wages are paid or not is largely down to the employees contract.

If remaining in work both the employer and the employee have a responsibility to put aside any grievances so that the work place at large is not affected and the employees work doesn’t suffer. Disciplinary proceedings shouldn’t be made common knowledge by employers or managers. Continuation of normal work will reduce the stress surrounding a disciplinary too.

Expansa are experts in employment, law providing clients throughout Manchester and across the UK with advice on discipline, grievances and dismissals. If you need help either as an employer or an employee our expert knowledge will guide you through.

Created on 14th June 2013
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