Support for those difficult conversations

Disciplinary procedures
and dismissal

It's never easy, but sometimes there's no alternative

Whilst it’s by no means certain that you’ll ever have to carry out a disciplinary procedure in the workplace, it’s most definitely worth being aware of what such a process involves.

Taking disciplinary action

The right approach

Identify the issue

Disciplinary procedures generally crop up when an employee has done something that is against company policy. This could include anything from bullying and harassment, to fraud or misuse of company property. Employees could also be disciplined for extensive unauthorised absences or poor timekeeping.

Have an informal conversation

In most cases, unless the incident is particularly serious,it's worth trying to address it by having an informal conversation. By making the employee aware of objections and/or complaints, you can attempt to resolve the problem before it escalates.

Escalating the issue

However, should the situation intensify, or if the employee continues to flout the rules once they have been made fully aware of the potential consequences of doing so, disciplinary action may be required.

Formal procedures

Acas code of conduct

If you decide that formal disciplinary action is necessary, then you should follow the Acas Code of Practice. This sets out the requirements of fairness that are appropriate to most cases. The Code has been specially developed to help employers, employees and any representatives deal with disciplinary and grievance issues in a way that is reasonable and unbiased.

Suspending an employee

If the employee’s transgression is serious enough, then it is not uncommon for them to be suspended while an investigation takes place. Should this happen, it’s important to remain impartial and fair while trying to piece together all of the details surrounding the situation.

Terminating the contract

Should you discover that the individual in question has committed an offence (or number of offences), then the employer will generally end up terminating their contract.

Employment tribunals

Being taken to a tribunal

If an individual strongly disagrees with the outcome of a disciplinary hearing, then they may decide to go to an employment tribunal. The employee will then be asked to provide evidence to support their claim – which will often be a case of wrongful dismissal – and the employer (or a representative of the employer) will then be given the opportunity to respond.

At the hearing

You’ll present the case to the tribunal - someone else can do this for you, such as a lawyer, friend or family member. The claimant will present their case against you. You may be asked questions by the judge, the claimant, and 2 other tribunal members (only in certain tribunals)

Getting a decision

You’ll be sent the decision in the post a few days or weeks after the hearing. In certain cases you may also be given the decision at the hearing. If you win the case, in most cases you will not be awarded any compensation. However, if the claimant acted unreasonably or if their case had no hope of success, you can ask to be awarded costs by the tribunal.

What could a mentor do for you?

Royal Bank of Scotland Mentor can work with you to help you through the complex issues and difficult conversation that most business owners will have to have at some point in their journey. We can support you with employment law, health and safety and even environmental issues.