Disciplinary rules and procedures exist to create an orderly and fair working environment, while maintaining consistency in the way employees are treated in the event of misconduct. The purpose of using disciplinary procedures is primarily to deal with situations where employees allegedly fail to comply with disciplinary rules; also they may be used in circumstances where the employee consistently fails to meet the expectations of his or her job description and duties.
The following procedures will be used when an employee fails to meet the company’s standards of performance or conduct. The procedures also may be applied if the employee is in breach of his or her contract of employment.
Informal procedure – verbal warning.
The informal procedure will be used in minor cases of misconduct or unsatisfactory performance. In such an event, the employee’s manager or a Director of the company will discuss the matter with the employee, with the intention of making clear in what way the employee has failed to meet required standards of performance or conduct, and provide the employee with an opportunity to improve.
If an employee fails to meet standards of performance or conduct, or the employee commits an act of gross misconduct (see Appendices 2 and 3 for examples of general and gross misconduct) then the company may take formal disciplinary proceedings as described below. There is no requirement for a verbal warning to be issued prior to formal disciplinary proceedings being instigated.
The first stage of the formal disciplinary procedure is a written statement by the company to the employee, providing details of the alleged case of misconduct or poor performance. The statement will also advise the employee of a date on which a formal hearing will take place to discuss the matter in detail. The employee has the right to be accompanied by a work colleague and is entitled to receive copies of any documents which will be produced at the meeting. Where possible, the time and location of the meeting should be agreed by the employee; the company will make every effort to ensure that these are acceptable to the employee and allow time for adequate preparation.
During the course of the meeting, the company will explain the complaint(s) against the employee, based on the evidence gathered and the implications of his or her actions. The employee has the right to present evidence in defence of the complaint(s), call on witnesses, and ask specific questions relating to the complaint(s).
To conclude the meeting, the company will decide if it is appropriate to implement disciplinary action and if so, in what form. When arriving at this decision, the company will take into account the employee’s previous disciplinary record, term of service, cases of similar occurrences and the explanations given by the employee for the recent misconduct.
When the employee’s poor performance or misconduct has been continuous or in cases where an incident of misconduct has had or will have a serious negative effect on the company’s business, the company may issue a final written warning. In cases of gross misconduct, the company may feel it is necessary to dismiss the employee, even if he or she has not been the subject of any previous misconduct or poor performance.
First written warning – unsatisfactory performance.
If it is concluded from the meeting that the employee has been performing at an unsatisfactory level and failing to meet the company’s expectations, the company will issue a written statement to the employee. This will include, as appropriate, the performance targets that are not being met, the improvement required from the employee, timescales and a date on which the performance will be re-evaluated. On issue of this statement, the employee will be advised that it is a first written warning and further failures to meet performance targets may result in a final written warning or dismissal. A copy of the statement will be kept in the employee’s file for 12 months and will be disregarded for disciplinary purposes after that time.
First written warning – misconduct.
If it is concluded at the meeting that the employee is guilty of misconduct, then the company will issue a written statement to the employee detailing the situation. The statement will explain the nature of the misconduct, followed by the change of behaviour required. When the statement is issued, the employee will be advised that this is the first stage of a disciplinary action, and that further incidents of misconduct may result in a final written warning or dismissal. The employee will be advised of his/her right to appeal against the decision. A copy of the statement will be kept in the employee’s file for 12 months and will be disregarded for disciplinary purposes after that time.
Final written warning.
If there is a recurrence of poor performance or misconduct within 12 months or when an incident of misconduct has had or will have a serious negative effect on the company’s business, the employee may be issued with a final written warning. The final written warning may be issued, only after a formal hearing has been conducted between the company and the employee. Where possible, the meeting will be arranged at a time and location convenient for the employee.
This will explain the nature of the poor performance or misconduct, and will stress that the inability or unwillingness of the employee to improve makes him/her liable for dismissal or another penalty, such as demotion or a loss of seniority, pay or privileges. The employee will be advised of his or her right to appeal against the decision. If the company decides it is appropriate to dismiss the employee or impose some other serious penalty, the situation will be referred to the company’s three stage formal disciplinary procedure set out below.
Formal three stage disciplinary and dismissal procedure.
Stage 1: Written statement.
The Managing Director will write to the employee with details of the alleged misconduct or performance failures that may result in dismissal or disciplinary action. The written statement will include a time and location for a formal hearing to investigate the allegations.
Stage 2: The hearing.
The employee has the right to be accompanied by a work colleague. Reasonable arrangements will be made by the company to ensure that the employee and his or her colleague (if any) can attend the hearing without too much difficulty, and the employee should take all reasonable steps to attend. Reasonable time will be also given to the employee to allow for any preparation that may be required. Following completion of the hearing, the Managing Director will issue a written statement advising the employee of the actions that will be taken by the company, as well as the employee’s right to appeal the decision.
If the employee is unable to attend the hearing, another reasonable date will be scheduled, no later than five working days after the original date. If the employee does not attend on the arranged second date, the law considers the dismissal or disciplinary procedure to have been fully exercised and the company may take action to implement dismissal or disciplinary measures.
Stage 3: Appeal.
If the employee wishes to appeal the decision made at the hearing, then he or she must inform the Director within five working days, who will then arrange a meeting to hear the appeal within a reasonable time (usually seven working days). At this appeal, the Director will be accompanied by another Director of the company and, if appropriate, the manager directly responsible for the employee. The employee may be accompanied by a colleague. Following the meeting, the employee will be advised in writing of the outcome of the appeal and the company will make it clear that the decision is final.
Appendix 2 – general misconduct.
The following are examples of general misconduct that may result in formal proceedings. The list is not exhaustive.
Poor work performance.
Excessive sickness absence.
Unreasonable behaviour to work colleagues.
Harassment or victimisation.
Breach of company security.
Breach of health and safety rules.
Repeated or serious failure to follow instructions.
Personal use of a company computer and/or ancillary electronic equipment during working hours.
Appendix 3 – gross misconduct.
The following are examples of gross misconduct that after investigation, may result in dismissal. The list is not exhaustive.
Theft from the company, its employees or clients.
Malicious damage to the company’s, employees’ or clients’ property.
Deliberate falsification of records or deliberate failure to maintain records.
Misuse of the company’s name.
Misuse of the company’s property.
Action that brings the company into disrepute.
Serious negligence which causes or may cause unacceptable loss, damage or injury to the company, its employees or clients.
Serious infringement of health and safety rules.
Inability to work due to the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs inside or outside working hours.
Any act of discrimination towards race, gender, colour, creed, age or disability.
Unauthorised disclosure of company or client information to any third party.
Soliciting work for independent personal gain from company clients or potential clients in negotiation with the company.
Use of a company computer to view obscene, pornographic, racist, destructive and/or illegal material.
If you have any difficulty arising from your employment that is causing you disquiet or dissatisfaction, the matter should be raised either verbally or in writing with your immediate line manager, the Managing Director, or another Director of the company.
If the grievance is raised by two or more employees, it should be made to the Managing Director who will, as appropriate, consult his Co-Directors and if appropriate, line manager(s).
If it proves impossible to resolve the grievance within the company, the matter can be referred to ACAS by either party or by the agreement of both parties.
The status quo working arrangements, that is the conditions in place immediately before the dispute was raised, shall operate until the agreed dispute procedures have been exhausted.
- Disciplinary policy.
- Informal procedure – verbal warning.
- Formal procedure.
- First written warning – unsatisfactory performance.
- First written warning – misconduct.
- Final written warning.
- Formal three stage disciplinary and dismissal procedure.
- Appendix 2 – general misconduct.
- Appendix 3 – gross misconduct.
- Grievance procedure.