Disciplinary, Dismissal & Grievance Procedures

Guidance for employers

The law on dismissal

If disciplinary action could end in dismissing an employee, employers must ensure the dismissal is fair. Fairness involves 2 key points:

  1. The reason for the dismissal must be one allowed by the law
    • Capability or qualifications of the employee
    • Conduct of the employee
    • Redundancy
    • Contravention of a duty or restriction or
    • Some other substantial reason
  2. The employer must act fairly. This means following the key principles set out below

PRINCIPLES OF REASONABLE BEHAVIOUR (drawn from the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures)

  • Procedures should be used to encourage employees to improve, where possible, rather than just as a way of imposing a punishment
  • You must inform the employee about the complaint against him or her; the employee should be given an opportunity to state his or her case before decisions are reached
  • The employee is entitled to be accompanied at disciplinary meetings
  • You should not take disciplinary action until the facts of the case have been established
  • You should never dismiss an employee for a first disciplinary offence, unless it is a case of gross misconduct
  • You should always give the employee an explanation for any disciplinary action taken and make sure the employee knows what improvement is expected
  • You must give the employee an opportunity to appeal
  • You should act consistently

Note that an employee cannot take a case of unfair dismissal against you until he or she has been employed by you for a year or more. There are some important exceptions to this rule. Some dismissals are automatically unfair whenever they occur. In particular you cannot fairly dismiss a woman for becoming pregnant or a trade union official or health and safety officer for carrying out legitimate duties. For further information see http://www.dti.gov.uk/er/individual/fair-pl714b.htm#04.

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