One of the biggest headaches in employing people is getting HR policies right. If you fail to have basic documentation in place, even in very small companies, it can cause untold hassles, headaches and much worse. So why take the risk?
Save time and money by using our ready made free policy template in your business. This policy has been written by experienced HR professionals and is updated regularly to take into account changes in UK employment legislation. It’s as simple as downloading this document and letting your employees know about it.
Disciplinary Policy and Procedure
The Organisation has laid down a minimum set of rules to define standards of performance and acceptable behaviour, and which are backed up by fundamental policies. These rules have been drawn up in the best interests of both the employer and the employee and aim to ensure fairness for all. The Organisation aims to ensure a supportive working environment, and believes that most issues can be dealt with informally by open and honest communication, and early resolution of minor problems.
The willing and active co-operation of all employees in accepting certain rules is essential if the organisation is to function smoothly and efficiently. Although discipline may imply sanctions against employees, its primary purpose is improving standards of performance and the maintenance of essential health and safety.
- The Disciplinary policy and procedure is designed to ensure any potential cases of misconduct or gross misconduct are investigated fairly and consistently;
- Issues will be dealt with and resolved quickly, fairly and consistently;
- Employees have the right to be accompanied during the disciplinary meeting;
- The Discipline and Appeals procedure may be implemented at any stage depending upon the seriousness of the issue(s) being considered.
If disciplinary action has to be taken against an employee:
- Investigations will be thorough and prompt
- Issues of performance will be dealt with separately from issues of conduct
- Employees will be kept informed of what is to happen throughout the process.
- Any new evidence brought up at the hearing will be investigated thoroughly even if this means postponing the hearing, all hearings will be adjourned so all evidence can be considered and a fair decision taken
Where sanctions are put in place they should take into account:
– the type of offence.
– what decisions have been taken in similar cases within the Company.
– previous disciplinary/performance record.
– any mitigating circumstances
Performance and Conduct
Performance specifically relates to how the employee carries out the employee’s role. Examples of performance issues include the following (this list is not exhaustive):
- Failure to reach and maintain performance standards.
- Inattention to detail/tasks.
Conduct specifically relates to how the employee behaves. Examples of misconduct issues include the following (this list is not exhaustive):
- Failure to follow the absence reporting procedure
- Health and safety breaches
- Unacceptable levels of lateness or sickness absence
- Abuse of policies and procedures.
- Breach of company dress code
- Unacceptable/inappropriate behaviour
Minor shortcomings in meeting the requirements of the employee’s job will, in the first instance, be brought to the employee’s attention informally by the employee’s Manager. Coaching, training and setting or resetting standards may be used for issues of a minor nature. This will include suggestions on how the employee’s performance could be improved and setting goals within an agreed timeframe. This will be documented on a record of conversation to ensure both parties are clear of what the expectations are moving forward.
In order to establish whether a potential disciplinary case exists, an investigation will be undertaken as soon as practically possible after the occurrence being investigated has taken place.
Where possible, the investigation should be carried out by an independent person that is a supervisor/manager who should not be involved with any disciplinary meeting, should this be necessary.
At the end of the investigation a decision will be made as to whether the alleged misconduct has taken place and if a formal disciplinary hearing should be arranged. The manager conducting the investigation may be accompanied by a note taker.
The formal disciplinary procedure is normally used when the informal procedure has not achieved the required improvements, if the problem is repeated or more serious. However, depending on the seriousness of the offence the procedure may be initiated at any stage, and any stage in the procedure may be omitted if considered appropriate.
Right to be accompanied
The employee may be accompanied at any formal meeting by a chosen companion who must be one of the following:
- Another Company employee, or
- A full time trade union official, or
- A trade union official who the union has certified as having experience of acting as a companion, or has received training to understand his or her role.
Friends and family are not permitted to attend as a companion.
The employee’s companion may take notes and confer privately with the employee but cannot answer questions on the employee’s behalf. If that person is not available on the arranged date, an alternative date can be suggested. This will only be allowed once, ideally within five working days of the original date proposed.
In certain circumstances, it may be appropriate to suspend the employee, either pending investigation or after an investigation. The decision to suspend is never taken lightly and should not be seen as a punishment. It will generally be for one of the following reasons:
- To allow a full investigation of the circumstances surrounding a particular incident.
- To protect the employee’s own and the Company’s interests.
- Where the Company feels it would be in the employee’s interest not to be present at work whilst the investigation is being carried out.
- In cases of gross misconduct.
The employee will be paid as normal during suspension and must be available to attend meetings during the employee’s normal working hours. At the end of a period of suspension, which will not usually last longer than 10 working days, a decision will be taken to either:
- Allow the employee to return to work with no further action taken.
- Arrange a disciplinary hearing
Notification of the disciplinary hearing
If the decision has been made to hold a formal disciplinary hearing the employee will be informed in writing of the date, time, place and the reasons why the hearing is being held. Where possible, at least 24 hours notice will be given before any disciplinary hearing takes place.
Non-attendance at disciplinary hearings
If the employee fails to attend a disciplinary meeting, the Manager will consider the reason for non-attendance and a second meeting may be arranged. If the employee fails to attend the second meeting, unless there are good reasons for not attending, the disciplinary hearing will be held in the employee’s absence and the outcome communicated in writing within 5 days. If the employee is on suspension and fails to attend a disciplinary hearing the employee’s suspension pay may be withheld depending on the reason for non- attendance.
During the hearing the procedure is as follows:
- To inform the employee of the nature of the complaint and discuss any evidence that exists to support the claim.
- For the employee to respond to the allegations and present relevant evidence.
- The Manager will then consider the evidence available and decide on the course of action to be taken.
- The employee will be informed of the decision by the Manager following the hearing, either verbally on the same day or in writing within 5 days of the meeting taking place.
- The outcome of the hearing will be either to issue a disciplinary sanction as set out below or to take no disciplinary action.
- Any mitigating circumstances will be taken into account before deciding on the action to be taken.
All cases requiring disciplinary action will be judged according to circumstances. The action to be taken will depend upon:
- the severity of the offence
- the employee’s record, if any, of previous offences
- any mitigating circumstances
Matters that the organisation views as amounting to disciplinary offences include (but are not limited to):
- persistent bad timekeeping;
- unauthorised absence;
- minor damage to the organisation’s property;
- failure to observe the organisation’s procedures;
- abusive behaviour;
- unreasonable refusal to follow an instruction issued by a manager or supervisor;
- poor attendance;
- smoking [or use of an e-cigarette] in non-designated areas of the organisation’s premises; and
- bribery offences under the Bribery Act 2010.
The disciplinary action imposed and its duration will depend upon the above and may take one or more of the following forms:
Verbal Warning: For a minor infringement of a Company policy / procedure or instance of minor misconduct, employees will normally receive a verbal warning (confirmed in writing). The warning will be recorded and remain in force for a period of up to 6 months from the date the warning is issued subject to satisfactory conduct, performance or behaviour.
First Written Warning: For repeated instances of minor misconduct or an instance of serious misconduct, a first written warning may be given. Written warnings may be issued without prior recorded verbal warnings. The written warning will remain in force for a maximum period of up to 12 months, subject to satisfactory conduct, performance or behaviour.
Final Written Warning: If the improvement after the first written warning stage is not achieved or in instances of serious misconduct, a final written warning may be given. For more serious offences, final written warnings may be issued without any prior recorded written warnings. The final written warning will remain in force for a period of 12 months subject to satisfactory conduct, performance or behaviour.
Dismissal (with pay in lieu of notice): If the improvement at the final written warning stage is not achieved the employee may be dismissed. For more serious offences, dismissal may occur without prior recorded warnings.
Summary Dismissal (without pay in lieu of notice): If the problem appears to be serious enough to constitute gross misconduct, then dismissal may result. See below acts which may constitute Gross Misconduct.
Demotion or downgrading: In exceptional cases, demotion or downgrading may be made in conjunction with other disciplinary actions, as an alternative to dismissal or where the act of misconduct / gross misconduct means the employee can no longer be trusted in the current role.
Suspension without pay: In exceptional cases, suspension without pay may be made in conjunction with other disciplinary actions or as an alternative to dismissal. This may be up to a maximum of ten working days.
Gross Misconduct/Summary Dismissal:
Acts which constitute gross misconduct are those resulting in a serious breach of contractual terms, Company procedures and standards which destroys the employment contract between the Company and the individual and makes any further working relationship and trust impossible.
The following list shows examples of acts of gross misconduct which may lead to summary dismissal. The list is neither exhaustive nor restrictive:
- Serious, persistent or wilful breaches of misconduct;
- Assault, fighting or any physical or verbal assault on any of the Company’s employees or clients;
- Any form of harassment, victimisation, bullying or discrimination against fellow employees, including but not limited to age, sex, gender identity, pregnancy, marital status, disability, colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origins, sexual orientation, religion, belief or political affiliation;
- Grossly indecent or immoral behaviour;
- Action that contravenes the Health and Safety policy, threatens the health and safety of employees or other persons or failure to comply with any health or safety requirements;
- Negligence, carelessness or wilful disregard of safety regulations that endangers the safety of a person, goods, plant or buildings;
- Behaviour which endangers the well being of the Company’s employees or clients, or which could seriously damage the Company’s reputation.
- Any criminal convictions or cautions (including driving convictions) that, in the opinion of the Company, are detrimental to its reputation, affects the employee’s position with the Company or prevents the employee from completing his / her duties;
- Serious breach of trust, fidelity or loyalty;
- Deliberate failure to adhere to Company policies or procedures.
- Gross insubordination or the use of aggressive behaviour or excessive bad language;
- Wilful refusal to carry out a direct instruction from a manager or supervisor;
- Undertaking private trading during duty hours;
- Consuming alcohol whilst on duty, or reporting for work in an intoxicated state;
- Smoking in a “No Smoking” area;
- Taking illicit drugs whilst on duty, or reporting for work under their influence;
- Fraud, including fraudulent abuse of the Sickness and Absence Policies;
- Deliberate falsification of records;
- Unauthorised breach of the Confidentiality Policy or Protected Disclosure provisions;
- Abandoning duties without permission or a reasonable excuse;
- Any breach of the law which has an effect upon the employee’s job.
- Unauthorised or inappropriate use of
- Serious breach of Company Electronic Communication and Internet Access Policy.
- Serious breach of the Code of Business
Right of appeal
The employee has the right to appeal against a disciplinary decision to the person specified in the disciplinary letter. This must be within 5 working days of written confirmation of the outcome of the disciplinary hearing outlining the grounds of the employee’s appeal.
An appeal hearing will be arranged within 14 days of receipt of the appeal letter. The employee has the right to be accompanied as stated previously.
The manager hearing the appeal must take account of any new evidence. It may be appropriate to adjourn the appeal to investigate further or consider new evidence.
The original decision will stand until the appeal has been considered. As a result of an appeal, the outcome may result in the removal of the disciplinary action, imposition of a lesser sanction, imposition of a higher sanction or confirmation of the original decision. If the decision is to revoke a dismissal, the employee will be reinstated with back pay. The decision of the appeal hearing is final and confirmed in writing as soon as possible, which will normally be within 10 working days.
Disclaimer: The recommendations should only be used as guidelines. Please only select the portions that apply to your organisation. Neither the author nor joinair.com will assume legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information provided in whole or in part within this article.
This template is ready to be tailored to your organisation’s needs and should be considered a starting point for setting up your organisation’s employment policies. Edit the sections in red as appropriate.
Find more free HR company policy templates here, and read more about promoting excellent mental health at work here.