Employee misconduct covers a multitude of problems; everything from minor timekeeping issues to deliberately providing a competitor with information about your business. Whether your employee is causing you irritation or putting your entire business at risk, misconduct needs to be dealt with, and dealt with in a way that is reasonable, proportionate and protects your business. If you are considering disciplinary action against your employee, you need specialist advice and assistance: Lincoln based LincsLaw Solicitors can help guide you through the disciplinary process.
The Disciplinary Procedure
If you suspect an employee of misconduct, you must ensure you act fairly and reasonably in respect of any disciplinary process or sanction. Many employers will have their own written procedure or policy to deal with employee misconduct or disciplinary action.
In addition, employers should also consider the ACAS Code of Practice – Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. The Code is considered to be the minimum standard for employers undertaking disciplinary action. Should the matter reach the Employment Tribunal and the employer is found to have breached the code, the Employment Tribunal may increase any award that is made to the employee by up to 25%.
As an employer you will be required to:-
- Raise issues promptly and not unreasonably delay meetings, decisions or confirmation of those decisions.
- Act consistently.
- Carry out investigations to establish the fact of the situation.
- Inform employees of the allegations against them and allow them a fair and reasonable opportunity to respond.
- Allow the employee to be accompanied at any disciplinary meeting.
- Allow the employee to appeal against any disciplinary sanction issued against them.
Further information and guidance in respect of each of the above steps can be found in the ACAS Code of Practice – Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. Lincoln based LincsLaw Solicitors can help guide you through the disciplinary process and assist with practical application of the ACAS Code of Practice – Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
The Disciplinary Sanction
If, at the end of your investigation and disciplinary meeting you have sufficient evidence of your employee’s misconduct, you will consider what disciplinary sanction is appropriate. Once again you must act fairly and reasonably in all the circumstances taking into account:-
- The employee’s explanations and the information they provided at the hearing. Did they admit and apologise for their mistake; did they demonstrate that “everyone does it”; where there any personal circumstances affecting them at the time; did they demonstrate a failure in your systems or training?
- The employee’s previous disciplinary record.
- The seriousness of the misconduct, including the risk to themselves and colleagues and the impact on your business.
Most procedures, including the ACAS Code of Practice – Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, have a tariff of disciplinary sanctions from warnings for less serious matters and/or first misconduct to dismissal (with or without notice) for the most serious and/or repeated offences.
Lincoln based LincsLaw Solicitors can help guide you through the disciplinary process and assist with practical application of the ACAS Code of Practice – Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
If you have gone through a disciplinary process with your employee and decided to issue a disciplinary sanction against them, you will need to confirm your decision in writing. As part of that confirmation you will need to offer them the opportunity to appeal against your decision.
An employee choosing to appeal could seek a reconsideration of your finding of misconduct against them. They may be adamant that they were not guilty of the misconduct, could say that they simply copied others and were unaware that they were acting in breach of your policies or some other reason which they believe exonerates them from the disciplinary allegations. Alternatively, an employee could accept that they are responsible for an act of misconduct but consider the disciplinary sanction to be too harsh.
In any event, your employee is entitled to appeal against your decision. You should arrange for an appeal meeting to be held promptly. If possible the appeal will need to be heard by a manager who has no previous involvement in the disciplinary. Once again, the employee is entitled to be accompanied.
At the end of the appeal, any decision will need to be confirmed to the employee in writing. Lincoln based LincsLaw Solicitors can help guide you through the disciplinary process and assist with practical application of the ACAS Code of Practice – Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
How can we help?
We understand that undertaking disciplinary action against an employee can be daunting and time consuming. At Lincoln based LincsLaw Solicitors our lawyers are Employment Law specialists and can advise you every step of the way. Contact us for a free, no obligation discussion regarding your employment issue.