Wouldn’t life be simple if we could see the future?
We’d always say the right things, always be in the right place and never set a foot out of place.
Of course, life’s not like that and we need procedures to help us when things start to go awry and difficulties set in.
At work, disciplinary and grievance procedures are there to ensure that these challenges are dealt with fairly and equitably. That’s why employers need procedures that support both the employer and employee's perspectives.
Disciplinary and grievance procedures are frameworks which provide clear structures for dealing with difficulties which may arise as part of the working relationship, from either the employer’s or employee’s perspective.
Crucially, they help ensure every individual is treated in the same way in similar circumstances and that issues are dealt with fairly and reasonably.
Disciplinary procedures are needed to:
- let employees know what is expected of them in terms of standards of performance or conduct (and the likely consequences of continued failure to meet these standards)
- identify obstacles to individuals achieving the required standards (for example training needs, lack of clarity about job requirements, or additional support needed) and to enable employers to take appropriate action
- enable employers and employees to agree suitable goals and timescales for improvement in an individual's performance or conduct
- try to resolve matters without recourse to external dispute resolution processes or an employment tribunal
- demonstrate to an employment tribunal that an appropriate process has been followed should an employee complain about the way they've been dismissed.
Grievance procedures are needed to:
- provide individuals with a course of action if they have a complaint which they're unable to resolve through regular or informal communication with their line manager
- provide points of contact and timescales to resolve issues of concern
- try to resolve matters without recourse to external dispute resolution processes or an employment tribunal.
The most important UK legislation governing discipline and grievances at work includes the Employment Act 2008 and the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2008.
I endorse the Acas Code of Practice Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures1. Following the Code is crucially important for employers. An employment tribunal will consider whether or not the employer or employee has followed the Code; if they haven't, the tribunal may adjust any awards made by up to 25% for unreasonable failure to comply.