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Guide to disciplinary procedures for start-up businesses

Disciplinary procedures are a key part of running any business successfully. You should be able to deal with any issues and problems with staff quickly and effectively.

But if you’ve just started your business, how do you handle disciplinary issues? This guide aims to help.

 Guide to disciplinary procedures for start-up businesses

Types of disciplinary action

Your options when dealing with problems with staff can extend to a number of different actions. These are intended to inform staff of any wrongdoing and provide a solution to prevent such issues from happening again.

Disciplinary actions can include:

  • Verbal warnings – explaining the problem to staff and informing them that this isn’t acceptable behaviour
  • Written warnings – an escalation from a verbal warning, a letter is issued to the employee, warning them that further action will be taken if the problem persists.
  • Disciplinary hearings – a meeting is held to discuss the problem with the employee, allowing both sides to have their say and reach a decision about what comes next. This could be the end of the issue, such as resulting in demotion or dismissal.
  • Dismissal – in the event of gross misconduct, it might be necessarily to immediately dismiss a staff member from your business

Setting out your disciplinary procedures

It’s important that you understand the way in which your disciplinary process should function, what actions relate to different levels of misconduct, and what response is appropriate.

You should decide, as a business, what constitutes gross misconduct and grounds for immediate dismissal. It’s wise to look at how your business operates, what problems might arise, and how your disciplinary procedures can help you to overcome them.

For example, a staff member violates your health and safety procedure.

Initially, this could simply be pointing out the issue or providing additional training to ensure it doesn’t continue.

Beyond that, the disciplinary procedure should involve issuing a verbal warning, followed by a written warning. If this stops the violation occurring, then the procedure should end. If issues continue, however, you should hold a disciplinary hearing. Here, a decision should be made about what steps you should next take, such as deciding to dismiss the employee.

Your disciplinary procedure should be set out in writing, with all members of staff aware of the process. Highlighting this procedure should also be a component of staff induction.

Documenting the different stages

Any instance of disciplinary action being taken against an employee should be documented. This is so you know how far through proceedings an employee is, but also to keep a record of when to follow up on any issues.

For example, checking performance over a period of time or assessing if a situation, which was problematic for your business, has improved.

It is also important that any disciplinary action is recorded and a copy of this record is provided for the employee. This protects you as a business, as you have adhered to the procedure, which prevents a stronger case being brought against you. For example, an appeal of a disciplinary action results in you being summoned to an employment tribunal.

How can FSB help your start-up with its disciplinary procedures?

When you set up your own business, a disciplinary procedure is one of several elements you should have in place.

FSB Business Creation provides people looking to start their own businesses with a range of services, designed to help and support new start-ups. This includes a dedicated help and advice line, which can help in formulating and putting together your disciplinary procedure.

These services also include access to:

  • Help with company formation
  • Insurance services
  • Networking support
  • Payment services

To find out more about how FSB Business Creation could help you when setting up your own business, get in touch with a member of the team or visit our FSB Start-up Business Advice page.

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