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Discipline and Grievence Matters
Employers require two essential procedures to resolve problems and issues in the workplace:
- A formal grievance procedure; and
- A formal disciplinary procedure.
A formal grievance procedure provides a means by which employees may air concerns or problems, and of enabling employers to process employee complaints and resolve disputes in a fair and systematic fashion.
An employer should ensure that any formal grievance procedural framework that is put in place is applied consistently. Line managers should receive comprehensive training on how to deal with these issues. There should at least be:
- Pre-grievance steps, such as an informal meeting;
- A description as to how procedure is to be invoked (usually by written notice);
- Whether it is heard at a hearing or on paper;
- The time frames for taking relevant steps;
- Who may be dealing with the grievance and the grievance procedure.
Our employment law specialist works with a range of employers, from small start-ups to multi-national corporations, ensuring that their employment contracts and employee handbooks contain clear, concise discipline and grievance procedures.
Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, certain aspects of an employer's disciplinary and grievance procedures must be included in the written statement of particulars.
- the details of the employer's disciplinary rules and procedure, and identify the person to whom the employee should go to appeal a decision or raise a grievance, or
- referring the employee to a document containing these details.
Disciplinary offences will usually initially attract a written warning (with a defined period), rather than dismissal (unless the offence is very serious).
The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures is admissible in evidence before courts and tribunals and must be taken into account where relevant. It is, therefore, vital that employers familiarise themselves with this code. Our solicitors can offer you up-to-date advice and ensure you comply with the procedures set out in the code.
Before taking any disciplinary action (in the form of a disciplinary meeting):
- Your employer should meet with you and discuss the situation with you first;
- Make all appropriate enquiries;
- Forward to you a Notice setting out:
- the date of any hearing;
- the disciplinary allegations made against you, your right to respond and to have someone with you at the hearing (usually a co-worker or a trade union representative): your colleagues cannot be disciplined for supporting you; and
- any documents and statements upon which the employer relies.
We can help you arrange a grievance meeting, or respond to a notice of disciplinary hearing, write the necessary correspondence and advise you how to conduct your own case at the meeting. We can help you get a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your grievance as well as the remedies available to you. If the initial meeting fails to bring about a satisfactory result, we can advise you on the next best course of action to take, for example, appealing the decision. If you have a good claim, we can advise you as to the steps needed to bring the matter to an Acas mediation (now a mandatory step) and issue in the Courts or Employment Tribunal.