Are you afraid of the disciplinary process?

26 Oct

Of all the tasks that those in leadership positions have to do, there is one that fills them with horror more than most – conducting a disciplinary. The disciplinary process will never be a pleasant experience, but it doesn’t have to be scary. We would like to treat you with these top tricks to bear in mind when conducting a disciplinary…

1) Remain Impartial

At all stages of the disciplinary process, it is important to remain impartial and unbiased. Forming your own opinion before you’ve collected all the evidence may lead to you selecting information that supports your own opinion. ‘Witch hunts’, whilst commonly related to Halloween are not appropriate in disciplinary investigations.

Take time to consider all of the evidence and/or statements following the end of a disciplinary hearing. Giving an immediate outcome may be suitable in certain cases, for example in the case of an admission of gross misconduct. However, in the event that you let the black cat out of the bag before considering all of the evidence, a tribunal may be more favourable to an employer that has taken time to consider all the evidence before providing an outcome.

2) Remember Employee Rights

Employees have a right under the Employment Rights Act 1996 to be accompanied by a companion to disciplinary hearings. This only applies to a meeting at which a disciplinary sanction is potentially going to be imposed or confirmed. Employees do not have a right to be accompanied at an investigation meeting, however, you may decide to allow this where appropriate.

An employee’s companion can either be a trade union representative or a workplace colleague. The request to be accompanied should also be reasonable. It may not be reasonable to be accompanied by a colleague who has a conflict of interest or someone who may be prejudicial to the meeting. Also, if an employee suffers from a disability or if there are other considerations, it may be reasonable to allow a person that isn’t a trade union representative or a work colleague to accompany the employee. By rule of thumb, always consider whether a request is reasonable to be allowed. You do not want to give your employee something to sink their teeth into at Tribunal that could otherwise have easily been avoided.

3) Only dismiss if it’s reasonable to do so

An Employment Tribunal will expect any dismissal to be “within the band of reasonable responses”. They will not look at whether they think you should have dismissed the employee but whether the decision to dismiss was one that a reasonable employer would make. If it falls outside of this reasonable band of responses, then the employee could be found to have been unfairly dismissed.

We know that a disciplinary process can be a frightening process. However, employers that fail to conduct a fair process will almost certainly not be receiving any ‘treats’ from an employment tribunal.

Thomas Carroll Management Services employ dedicated employment advisers who will be able to guide you through a dismissal process from beginning to end. This includes providing the correct letters to send, advising on process, attending the hearings and helping with outcome letters. We can also assist with any Employment Tribunal claims that may follow. Providing that you have followed all of our advice, our insurance cover will pay both your legal expenses in defending a claim together with any compensation that the employee may be awarded.

Need some advice?

Get in touch with our Employment Law team on 02920 853794, or email to arrange a free consultation.