Read our article on the disciplinary process for more detail

  • A good disciplinary process protects you from tribunal loss

  • An informal chat can sometimes solve the problem effectively

  • Investigate, discipline, appeal

It’s really important to follow your disciplinary process when you come across areas of concern with an employee’s conduct or capability.

We’d always recommend talking to the employee as the first point of call. Often small problems can be resolved by opening a dialogue and agreeing on a course of action for improvement, but if this doesn’t work you then need to escalate the matter using your disciplinary process (if you don’t have one, the ACAS Code of Practice is a good place to start).

So, what are they key points of the disciplinary process?

  1. Issues should be dealt with promptly without unreasonable delay to meetings, decisions or confirmation of decisions – when you identify a problem, don’t wait weeks or months to address it, start with an informal chat and then progress through disciplinary process
  2. You should act consistently – the way you treat this employee should be the same as the way you have treated (or intend to treat) other employees who have similar issues
  3. Necessary investigations should be carried out to establish the facts of the case – the investigating person should be different to the disciplinary person. If you’ve done a good investigation, the disciplinary meeting should be straightforward
  4. You should inform your employee of the problem and give them chance to put their case forward in response before making a decision – invite the employee to a disciplinary hearing and outline the problem in the invite letter, including any evidence you intend to refer to
  5. Employees should be afforded the right to be accompanied at formal meetings – this may be a colleague or a certified trade union representative
  6. Employees should be given the right to appeal against any formal decision – ideally the person hearing the appeal should be different to those who conducted the investigation and disciplinary process.

Don’t forget also that if you suspect an employee of Gross Misconduct, you should suspend them from duty on full pay whilst you investigate and decide if there is a disciplinary case.

Our other top tips for a safe disciplinary process:

  1. Always take notes of any informal conversations you have with your employees, you may need them later to back up your disciplinary process
  2. It’s a good idea to have a separate note-taker at any formal meetings, it can be hard to keep up and take accurate notes when you’re also asking the questions
  3. Investigate thoroughly, leave no stone un-turned. Keep asking “why” to get to the bottom of the problem
  4. Remember your employee is likely to feel defensive, nervous and may even be angry – make sure you leave your own emotion at the door
  5. It’s really important to be impartial, look at all the facts and not prejudge the outcome of any investigation and disciplinary process, so if you know you will struggle with this, find a neutral third party (like CUBE HR) to help

Provided you have followed your disciplinary process, have acted reasonably and have decided on a sanction that is reasonable to the offence (i.e. you wouldn’t normally dismiss someone who was late once for work), you should have a solid defence if an employee puts in a tribunal claim.

Do you have questions about the disciplinary process?

Give us a call at CUBE HR, we’ll be happy to advise you and we have policies and templates available to meet every HR need.

Why not check out our other blog on the same topic Disciplinary Process – 3 Things You Need to Know

You can also watch a range of other videos on our YouTube channel