Handling Grievance & Discipline Procedures

The Disciplinary Procedure

The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures (PDF) sets out that the disciplinary procedure should:

  • be in writing
  • specify who is covered
  • be non-discriminatory
  • provide that matters will be dealt with promptly
  • state that proceedings, witness statements and records will be confidential
  • indicate the disciplinary actions that may be taken
  • specify who has the authority to take each form of disciplinary action
  • say that the workers will be informed about complaints and any evidence before the hearing
  • state that workers can state their case before a decision is made
  • provide the right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union official
  • ensure that, except for gross misconduct, no worker is dismissed for a first breach of discipline
  • ensure the case be investigated before any action
  • ensure that all penalties are fully explained
  • set out the rights and procedures for appeal

Follow the Code guidance, as a tribunal will take into account whether you used the Code if a case is brought.

Discipline and grievances at workThe Code was revised in October 2004 to reflect changes requiring the introduction of minimum statutory discipline and grievance procedures. More information is on the page on discipline and grievance procedures and the employment contract. Train managers to deal with disciplinary and grievance issues and procedures.

Download Discipline and grievances at work and the Code of Practice: Disciplinary and
Grievance Procedures
from the ACAS website (PDF).

When not to use the procedure

For minor cases of misconduct, you may find informal discussions better than disciplinary procedures. For most cases of poor performance, informal discussions, coaching, retraining and counselling are likely to be a better option (for more information see investigating disciplinary matters).

You may also wish to develop separate procedures for dealing with matters of performance and capability, which usually require different handling from disciplinary matters. In either case, if a hearing could lead to disciplinary action, the worker is entitled to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union official.

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