If you find that an employee has been involved in an incident of misconduct, the action you take depends on how serious it was. For example:
- If the misconduct relates to a minor issue, the penalty for a first offence would normally be a verbal warning. This would be followed by a written warning if the offence is repeated within a specified timescale. Further occurrences would result in a final written warning and ultimately dismissal if repeated again.
- If the misconduct relates to a more serious issue, the employer may issue a final written warning for a first offence followed by dismissal for any further repeat of the offence within a specified time scale.
- The Labour Relations Agency (LRA) Code of Practice applies the statutory procedures to the issue of warnings as a matter of good practice.
- If the misconduct is of a very serious nature, the employer may dismiss for a first offence.
- No disciplinary action should be taken until there has been a thorough investigation into the alleged misconduct.
- Details of the alleged misconduct should be set out in writing and given to the employee prior to any hearing taking place.
- The employee must be offered the right to appeal against any decision taken within the formal procedure
- Throughout the formal process, employees have the right to be accompanied to all meetings and appeal meetings and to appeal to a more senior manager - ideally one not involved in the initial meetings
- The LRA Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures recommends that verbal warnings would remain on file for a six month period and written warnings for a 12 month period.
(Discipline and dismissal have a statutory procedure which must be followed and if it is not, where it applies, this may result in a finding of automatic unfair dismissal.)