Knowing When Not to Act
Our first Employment Breakfast breaks down the disciplinary process.
No matter what business you are in, disciplinaries are not uncommon: as an employee, as a witness, as a note taker, or even as the interviewer. As an employer, failure to follow the correct procedures could open you up to calls of unfair dismissal. Today, in our first Employment Breakfast, Nick Jones discusses the dos and don’ts from an employer’s perspective to ensure that the correct outcome is achieved.
Of course, you should not automatically assume that an allegation needs to result in a disciplinary – or that a suspension is the best initial course of action. As Nick said, following recent case law: “Suspension is not a neutral act.” He then gave some practical examples demonstrating how an individual can be placed elsewhere in the company during an investigation, to prevent suspension from being necessary or long term.
Nick’s primary guidance is to follow ACAS’ advice, ensure you are acting within the ACAS Code of Practice and give every reasonable chance for those accused to represent their point of view. Not following these guidelines could increase a pay-out by 25% if you are later found to have unfairly dismissed someone. Twenty minutes of your time reading the guidelines now could easily save you £20,000 in the long run.
Cecily gave some useful advice regarding the wording of the allegations: keep it simple! If you believe that an employee has stolen company property, make the allegation outright rather than attempting to sound impressive and complicated. You need to communicate reasonably to ensure that all involved can follow the process, as a lack of clarity will not be viewed well by a tribunal.
After Nick’s impressive and comprehensive run through of the dos and don’ts of disciplinary hearings, he took some questions from attendees over whether names of witnesses should be redacted in investigation reports, how external factors should not deter the progress of a disciplinary hearing, and whether the cross-examination of witnesses should be permitted as part of the process.
We were pleased to welcome attendees from various sectors, and each went away with a new understanding and fresh perspective on the challenges, rights, and responsibilities that impact a disciplinary process. Gregg Latchams prides itself on offering expert advice in this area, and if you wanted to attend but missed out, you can get in touch with our Employment Law team by clicking here.
Keep up to date with industry news and events (including the date for our next Employment Breakfast!) by subscribing to our newsletter or mailing list, following us on twitter, or keeping an eye on our events page.