Guide

Disciplinary procedures, hearings and appeals

Informal and formal action for misconduct and poor performance

If an employee's performance or conduct does not meet your standards, you should try to help them improve. Have an informal discussion with them as soon as you're aware of a problem. Explain what they're doing wrong and agree actions to be taken.

If the employee's poor conduct or performance continues, you may have to take formal disciplinary action.

Your disciplinary procedure should - at the very least - comply with the statutory dismissal and disciplinary procedures, and meet the good-practice principles set out in the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.

Remember that the employee has the right to be accompanied by a work colleague or Trade Union Official (who may be either a full-time official employed by a union or a lay union official who has been reasonably certified in writing by his/her union as having experience of, or as having received training in, acting as a worker’s companion) at any formal disciplinary meeting.

Formal disciplinary procedure

When taking formal disciplinary action, the employer should comply with the Statutory Procedures by ensuring that the following steps are taken at all stages of the formal disciplinary process.

Step 1: Statement of grounds for action and invitation to meeting:
The employer must provide to the employee a written statement of the alleged misconduct which has led to the consideration of formal disciplinary action or dismissal. The employer should invite the employee to a hearing to discuss the issue.

Step 2: Hearing:
Prior to the hearing the employer should supply any information relevant to the allegation allowing the employee sufficient time to consider the detail and prepare their defense. After the meeting the employer should inform the employee of the decision and offer the right to appeal.

Step 3: Appeal:
If the employee wishes to appeal he or she will inform the employer within five working days. The employer will invite the employee to a further hearing to discuss the appeal. The final decision will be communicated to the employee.

Minor misconduct

If the alleged breach falls within the minor misconduct category the employer should follow the formal procedure outlined above and the following action will be taken if the employer is satisfied that an offence has occurred: 

Stage 1:
The employee should be given a verbal warning. It will be recorded and retained on file for a period of 6 months.

Stage 2:
If the same or similar offence is repeated within 6 months the employee should be given a first written warning. It will be recorded and retained on file for a period of 12 months.

Stage 3:
If the same or similar offence is repeated within 12 months the employee should be given a final written warning. This will contain a clear notice that a repeat of the offence within 12 months will result in dismissal.

Stage 4:
If an employee has been issued with a final written warning then this normally means that any further misconduct within the duration of the warning may result in dismissal.

Major misconduct

If the alleged breach falls within the major misconduct category the employer will follow the formal procedure as outlined above. If  the employer is satisfied that an offence has occurred the employee will receive a final written warning which will contain clear notice that a repeat of the offence within 12 months may result in dismissal. 

Gross misconduct

If the alleged breach falls within the gross misconduct category the employer will follow the formal procedure as outlined above. If the employer is satisfied that an offence has occurred the employee will be dismissed summarily: ie without notice and without wages in lieu of notice.