Steve McLaren (pictured), an experienced employment law specialist and partner with Kippen Campbell, in Perth, and a member of United Employment Lawyers, offers a handy checklist to stay on the right side of the law.
Top Ten Tips:
1. Act promptly: You must deal with any matter as soon as you can. Don’t put this off and certainly don’t let it linger.
2. Be consistent: This means that you deal with everyone in the same way – no favourites in the workplace.
3. Do your reading: It is essential to get to know the ACAS Discipline and Grievance at Work handbook. At £4.95 a copy, it might just be the best fiver you spend in business.
4. Preparation is key: Make sure everyone knows the company’s disciplinary procedure. Posting it in small type on a notice board is not really enough: every employee should have easy access to, and ideally, a copy of the procedure.
5. Investigate the facts: That means asking the right questions and then keeping a record of when you did this and what you found.
6. Inform the employees involved: If you are accusing someone of a disciplinary breach, you need to allow them to put forward their case. And they can be accompanied by a colleague, union representative or even in certain circumstances a lawyer, at any formal meeting.
7: Put the matter in writing. You have to write to the person about alleged misconduct or poor performance and explain the possible consequences. You also need to notify the person of the time and venue of a disciplinary meeting.
8: Explain the consequences: You must explain that dismissal is a possibility, if relevant. You are expected to comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary meetings.
9: Allow an appeal against a decision: This gives the employee the opportunity to state their point of view to someone who is in a neutral position.
10: Explore a Settlement Agreement: This is legally binding between employer and employee and for it to be valid it has to have certain key clauses, including the requirement that all employees receive independent advice from a relevant adviser, usually a solicitor. Such agreements are reached when there is redundancy but also when employment is terminated by mutual agreement after dismissal or to settle an ongoing Employment Tribunal.
If things still break down, then both sides should seek legal help to discuss the steps now required to be taken towards an Employment Tribunal.
Please note: This material has been prepared for guidance only and is not intended to be relied upon as advice for any specific case.