The importance of having a robust disciplinary procedure
An article reported in BBC News last week has demonstrated the importance for businesses to have a well-written, solid, and standardised disciplinary procedure.
Link to news story here.
In March 2020, Colin Kane (aged 66) was seen smoking outside a bar while off work through illness. He was later fired from his job at Debmat Surfacing in Ryton, Gateshead. Last week he won his case at an Employment Tribunal.
The judge had ruled in favour of Mr Kane, finding that he had been unfairly dismissed and that the firm had not undertaken a fair disciplinary process.
It was found that there was nothing in the company’s disciplinary procedure that prohibits an employee from acting in this way. The judge had also noted “flaws” within the firm’s investigations and said its disciplinary procedure fell below the standard of a “reasonable employer”. She later ruled that: “The claimant was unfairly dismissed” and that “there was a 25% chance of the claimant being dismissed if the respondent (the employer) had conducted a fair procedure.”.
The principle of a good disciplinary procedure is that it ensures all employees follow and keep to the rules. Additionally, they enable you, as the employer, to ensure that all breaches of the rules are dealt with fairly and consistently. If your business has well written rules and procedures that are used effectively then not only will your workplace have a happier working environment but also, you will minimise the potential risk of being taken to an Employee Tribunal.
Should you be taken to a tribunal, and you are ruled against for unfair dismissal, you may be liable to pay compensation, depending on your employee’s age, salary, and length of service. This makes it essential to have a robust disciplinary procedure in place so that there are a clear set of guidelines to follow in the event of a potentially difficult situation.
A useful resource through which you can cross-reference your approach is the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. which provides best practice advice on how to conduct disciplinary procedures and sets out what is generally expected of an employer. This is a lawful code of practice meaning that a tribunal must consider whether an employer and/or employee has adhered to its provisions and if not, then the unfair dismissal compensation can be adjusted appropriately.
Contact our Employment lawyers in Bristol or London
If your business requires advice on disciplinary issues or conducting a workplace investigation, get in touch with our Employment team today on 0117 906 9400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org