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Disciplinary Action

There may be occasions when the employer believes that disciplinary action is necessary, for example, because of poor absence, work concerns or conduct. Any action should be taken in accordance with a written Disciplinary Procedure. For less serious problems, the matter might simply be addressed informally.

The employer should first undertake an investigation to assess the issue(s) and may suspend an employee on full pay during this time. If following the investigation the employer believes the allegations are sufficient enough to justify further action, the employee will be invited to attend a disciplinary meeting.

The employer must clearly outline the allegations and whether dismissal could be a likely outcome. The employee can be accompanied by a work colleague or a trade union representative.

Although the meeting can be a daunting prospect, it is an opportunity for the employee to challenge the allegations and to provide further information if appropriate. It is important that the employer has all of the relevant information before making a decision.

If no further action is necessary, the matter will be at an end. However, where the allegations are found to be sufficiently serious, the employer may issue a warning or terminate employment. The decision will depend on the severity of the allegations, for example, theft would usually amount to a gross misconduct justifying dismissal without notice.

Where the employee wishes to challenge the decision, a written letter of appeal should be submitted within the timeframe provided by the employer. All stages of the process should be documented in correspondence from the employer and the decision letter should state when an appeal should be made.

The employee will be invited to attend an appeal meeting, again, with the right to be accompanied by a work colleague or a trade union representative. The employer will reflect on the points raised, undertake further investigations where necessary and confirm the decision in writing. There is no further right of appeal. However, there may be grounds for an employee to formally issue a claim in respect of employment rights. There is a strict timeframe on when this should be done and the employee should seek legal advice as soon as possible.

The disciplinary process must be conducted in a fair and reasonable way. The initial investigatory process, disciplinary and appeal meetings should ideally all be conducted by a different representative of the employer with the appropriate level of seniority, particularly to ensure impartiality.

This information is intended to provide a general and generic overview only and is not intended to represent comprehensive legal advice, procedures and policies may also vary. This information should not be relied upon without first obtaining detailed legal advice.