The aim of any disciplinary procedure is to ensure consistent and fair treatment for all. Most discipline procedures will be constructed to follow the guidelines set out in the ACAS Code of Practice on the subject
The Code of Practice is designed to help employers, employees and their representatives deal with disciplinary situations in the workplace. Disciplinary situations include misconduct and/or poor performance.
If employers have a separate capability procedure they may prefer to address performance issues under this procedure. However, the basic principles of fairness set out in the Code should still be followed,
The Code emphasises that fairness and transparency will be promoted by developing and using clear and consistent rules and procedures for handling disciplinary situations.
They should be set down in writing, be specific and clear. ACAS recommend that employees
and, where appropriate, their representatives should be involved in the development of rules and procedures.
It is also important to help employees and managers understand what the rules and procedures are, where they can be found and how they are to be used.
Where formal action is needed, what action is reasonable or justified will depend on all the circumstances of the particular case. Employment tribunals will always take the size and resources of an employer into account when deciding on relevant cases and it may sometimes not be practicable for all employers to take all of the steps set out in the Code.
However, in all cases:
- Employers and employees should raise and deal with issues promptly and should not unreasonably delay meetings, decisions or confirmation of those decisions.
- Employers should carry out any necessary investigations, to establish the facts of the case.
- Employers should inform employees of the basis of the problem and give them an opportunity to put their case in response before any decisions are made.
- Employers should allow employees to be accompanied at any formal disciplinary meeting.
- Employers should allow an employee to appeal against any formal decision made.
Wherever possible, when an appeal is held, this should be heard by another person not connected to the original disciplinary hearing. Only in exceptionally small concerns would it be possible for the same person to hear both the disciplinary and the appeal hearings.