The stages of the disciplinary process
The stages of the disciplinary process
If you are having to take disciplinary action against one of your employees it is important you follow the correct process. In this article, our HR Assistant, Jack Taylor, explains how to conduct a disciplinary process accurately and fairly.
Disciplinary action can be taken against an employee who fails to meet expected standards of behaviour or performance, or where there are concerns about absence. Employers can talk to employees informally, but there are set procedures as to how they handle a formal disciplinary process. Employees can also appeal to any action.
You should follow these steps by law in order to ensure fairness across the board
- A letter setting out the issue
- A meeting to discuss the issue.
- A disciplinary decision.
- A chance to appeal this decision.
How a disciplinary process works
A disciplinary process is sometimes the best way for you to tell your employee when something is wrong. It allows you to explain clearly what improvement you need and should give the employee an opportunity to put their side of the situation across.
You as the employer must put their disciplinary procedure in writing, and make it easily available to all employees. It should include the rules, what performance and behaviour might lead to disciplinary action, and what action you as the employer might take.
A letter setting out the issue
Before taking formal disciplinary action or dismissing an employee, you as the employer may try to raise the matter informally with the employee. This is often a good way of resolving a problem quickly. However, you can go straight to the company’s formal disciplinary or dismissal procedures.
A meeting to discuss the issue
You will need to investigate if there’s a complaint against the employee and may need to ask for a statement. The investigation should be unbiased, fair, and reasonable. It should also seek to establish the facts and not just collect evidence against the employee. You should give copies of any information that comes out of the investigation.
An employee must be given a fair opportunity at a disciplinary hearing to put their case forward, ask questions and provide an explanation for any allegations against them. Even if employers feel they have all the evidence already necessary to dismiss an employee, you must listen to their evidence, mitigation and hear their reasons.
The hearing must be held by a manager who has not been previously materially involved in the matter e.g. by being the investigator or a witness. This can be difficult in a small organisation; therefore you might want to go external and outsource an HR consultant to conduct an investigation.
A note-taker must be present who has not been involved in the process previously. At the start of the hearing, the manager will need to introduce everyone present at the meeting; explain all the allegations against the employee and the purpose of the hearing. You should remind the employee of their right to be accompanied if they have attended unaccompanied.
You should then allow the employee the opportunity to make any response to the allegations, ask questions and discuss any of the documented evidence. The employee’s representative is also able to make statements and can ask questions on the employee’s behalf. However, they are not able to answer the questions that are put directly to the employee.
A disciplinary decision and chance to appeal this decision
Disciplinary hearings can be stressful for employees and witnesses. The manager should be mindful of this and, if necessary, allow for short breaks. By the end of the meeting, the manager should check if the employee wants to say anything further before the manager considers everything and makes their decision. The chair should also make clear that the employee has 7 days to appeal the decision.
At HPC we can help you if you are considering disciplinary action against one of your employees. This could be guiding you through the process and offering advice, or our consultants can be present to conduct the investigation and/or take notes on your business’s behalf. It is important you conduct these correctly to avoid claims against your company.
If you have any concerns or would like to discuss the Disciplinary Process further, please get in contact with the HPC team today
T: 0844 800 5932