Disciplinary Processes and Dismissal
Disciplinary Processes, handling employee misconduct is a time-consuming process and can divert focus away from the day-to-day running of your business. Some issues can be resolved informally; others require a careful management framework.
It is usually apparent when an employee needs to be disciplined, however, issuing an immediate disciplinary sanction can be inappropriate, especially for employers who wish to avoid accusations of breach of contract or falling foul of unfair dismissal legislation. Disciplinary issues must be approached fairly and swiftly and you must operate within the remit of your own policies.
Disciplinary policies should be clear and well-communicated and set out the expected standards of behaviour from your employees and how issues of misconduct will be dealt with. Procedures for disciplining employees must be reasonable and transparent and will typically involve a series stages which range all the way from an informal verbal warning to a final written warning. The final stage in any disciplinary procedure will usually be dismissal.
Employment tribunals have very set ideas as to what constitutes a reasonable process, and they will look at the appropriateness of the disciplinary decisions you have made. Every case will be considered on its own merits, but you will be expected to have followed the process that set out in your own workplace policies and doesn’t contravene the Acas Code of Conduct.
Your written disciplinary policy is usually the first port of call for you, your managers and your employees where action is required to address misconduct. We can help you to ensure that your policies and procedures are robust and up to date and are always available to provide expert advice if you’re unsure as to whether disciplinary action is appropriate or even necessary. Tollers are here for you. We can guide you through the appropriate disciplinary procedure step-by-step and to help you achieve the right outcome for your business.
The key themes here are, again, the importance of having clear and established workplace policies and procedures and being seen to be complying with them. Dismissal policies should be well-drafted and communicated in advance of (rather than in response to) workplace disputes. Dismissal is the last stage of any disciplinary process and must be covered in your disciplinary procedure so that both managers and employees are aware of the process and the conduct which may result in dismissal.
There can often be some confusion around the different categorisations of dismissal, and this can affect the choice of procedure that employers employ to deal with the issues that arise. As mentioned already, it is important to act fairly and reasonably in taking any decision to dismiss an employee, or else you may find yourself liable for a claim of unfair dismissal.
Dismissals will only be considered to be fair if there was a potentially fair reason for the dismissal and the employer has acted reasonably throughout the dismissal process. A tribunal will expect an employer to have exhausted all other reasonable avenues towards resolving workplace issues to avoid the inevitability of dismissal, which should ideally be considered the last resort.
Aside from the risk of an unfair dismissal claim, you should also look to manage dismissals fairly as the way in which you deal with an employee’s dismissal will either be perceived positively by the rest of your workforce, or will set an awkward precedent for any future action.
Talk to Tollers
Involving Tollers in establishing an appropriate disciplinary procedure, or in dealing with a decision to dismiss, can ensure minimum business disruption, reduce your exposure to risk, and enhance your reputation as a competent and socially responsible employer.