Handling Grievance & Discipline Procedures

Appeals against disciplinary/grievance decisions

In your disciplinary and grievance procedures you should provide for appeals. A written decision to a worker should note their right to appeal.

The procedures should:

  • specify time limits for lodging and hearing the appeal
  • provide (where possible) for a previously uninvolved manager to hear the appeal
  • state the right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union official

In addition, the disciplinary appeal procedure should explain what action may be taken as a result, and the grievance appeal procedure should state that the outcome of the appeal hearing is final.

Preparations for a grievance or disciplinary appeal hearing

  • Deal with the appeal hearing promptly.
  • Hold it at a reasonable time for the employee and give proper notice so they can inform and consult representatives.
  • Ensure you have all relevant facts and documents available for the hearing.
  • Inform any witnesses or managers who may need to attend.
  • Arrange for someone to take notes.
  • Have another manager act as a witness to the proper conduct of the hearing.

At the appeal hearing, consider:

  • the reasoning behind the appeal
  • any new evidence since the earlier decision

You should write to the employee with the result and the reason for the decision as soon as possible after the hearing. Make it clear, if this is the case, that the decision is final.

Ideally during the early stages you should try to keep a more senior manager uninvolved with the issue in question so they can be used to hear any appeal. Where you don’t have one available to do this, the person hearing the appeal should act impartially and make sure they review carefully the original decision.

Arbitration as a means of appeal

The ACAS Code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures (PDF) suggests that independent arbitration can be an appropriate method of resolving difficult employment disputes. If all parties agree, this may form the final stage of the procedure.

Appeals to external bodies

Some industries (eg, the construction industry) have procedures for dealing with appeals agreed between employer bodies and trade unions. This should be stated during the disciplinary procedure.

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