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How to carry out a disciplinary procedure

If an issue with an employee escalates beyond verbal and written warnings, you might be forced to hold a disciplinary hearing.

It is important that a clear process is in place to protect both you and your staff from any wrongdoing during a hearing. Should any errors in the disciplinary procedure be identified, they can be used as evidence during an employment tribunal.

A disciplinary procedure should contain four key areas. This blog explains each area.

How to carry out a disciplinary procedure

Letter

The first step is to notify the employee that disciplinary action is being taken, why it’s being taken, and that they are required to attend a hearing.

This should be held at a convenient time in a suitable location. This is often during working hours in an office or staff room. However, it might be necessary to be flexible with the date to cover considerations, such as childcare.

Meeting

The meeting, or disciplinary hearing, is the main component of the whole procedure.

This is where you explain the complaint being levelled at the employee and highlight any evidence you have that supports the complaint.

Examples of evidence include:

  • CCTV footage
  • Transaction details
  • Timesheets
  • Clock in and clock out details

You should ensure the employee is given ample time to explain their side of the story and ask questions.

An impartial party, such as a member of HR or a colleague, should also be able to attend with the staff member to support their case.

Decision

Following the meeting, a decision must be reached. This should be based on the severity of the complaint and the information gathered during the hearing.

Decisions can involve:

  • No action being taken
  • Suspension – the employee is removed from the business for a period of time
  • Dismissal – the employee is asked to leave the business
  • Demotion – such as a manager being made a deputy
  • A final warning being issued to the employee – where any further issues will result in dismissal

Your decision should be relayed to the employee in writing as soon as possible.

You should also highlight an employee’s right to appeal your decision should they wish to do so.

Appeal

Once an appeal has been requested the appeal meeting should be held as soon as possible.

This meeting should ideally be conducted by someone who was not involved in the original hearing or decision-making process.

Appeals should function similarly to the original hearing, with the employer being able to make a final decision based on this meeting.

Again, this decision is delivered in writing. It can change from the original decision you made, or it can be changed to something less severe.

From this point, many disciplinary procedures are complete. However, sometimes an issue could escalate and be taken to an employment tribunal. For example, an employee who feels they were unfairly treated before an appeal and afterwards.

How can FSB help with disciplinary procedures?

At FSB, we aim to help with disciplinary procedures by providing our members with an employment protection and law advice service. This gives you access to:

  • Employment advice helpline, operated by experienced lawyers
  • Downloadable and customisable documents from our Online Legal Information Hub
  • Experienced solicitors and barristers that can represent you at an employment tribunal
  • Employment tribunal insurance, which is legal representation to help defend you against a claim
  • Awards of compensation that have been agreed at a tribunal, covered by the insurance, with cover of up to £100,000 per claim

If you’d like to find out more about how this service can help you, please read the FSB Employment Protection page or get in touch with a member of our qualified team. 

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A wealth of important information and advice, available online in-case you face dismissal or discrimination claims and employment tribunals.

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