An inevitable part of running a business is dealing with any grievances, or disciplinary issues that arise. When this happens, there are strict protocols that the employer must follow if they are considering dismissing the employee or taking disciplinary action. At a basic level, there is a statutory minimum that must be satisfied, although individual businesses may have their own additional steps to follow.

Business employment law

Having specialised legal assistance when dealing with disciplinary issues is a must. Only experienced employment lawyers will be able to offer the expertise necessary to keep the risks for your company as low as possible. There are several stages to follow and it's imperative that each one is completed correctly, or else the final outcome may not be enforceable.

There are a number of expert Oratto member employment lawyers who can help you; you can either select a name from this page, or we can do that for you through the Oratto Match facility if you send your details and legal requirements through to us.

Stages of grievance and disciplinary procedures

At the outset, a written statement must be given to the relevant employee, detailing the nature of the grievance. Subsequent to that, a meeting (or hearing) must be arranged with the employee to discuss the issues which have been highlighted. The employee is allowed to bring someone along to this meeting for support, either a colleague or a trade union representative. If the matter is not resolved within the first meeting, the employee can request an Appeal meeting and this must be granted.

Employer's grievance and intentions

The written statement from the employer must set out the complaint in detail and confirm that they are considering dismissal or disciplinary action. It should also include copies of the outcome of any investigations, or evidence to be used, to allow the employee a chance to see these before the meeting. No action can be taken against the employee before the meeting has taken place.

Employee's obligation

The employee should attend the meeting and therefore care should be taken to arrange it at a mutually agreeable time for everyone attending. Failure to attend will have a negative effect on any future claims by the employee and they must be given reasonable warning of the meeting and the ability to alter the time or place.

After the meeting, the employer will lay out its decisions, along with any action to be taken as a result. At this point the employee has the right to appeal the decision and follow the appeals process. The employee must write to their employer stating their reasons and an Appeal meeting can then be arranged.

If the full process has been followed as above, then the employer is within their rights to suspend the employee on full pay, pending the outcome of any investigations. Employers should bear in mind that additional grievances can be raised by the employee in response to suspension. Your chosen employment solicitor will be able to help you decide if that is the right move for you or not.

When does this process not apply?

There are a few circumstances when the disciplinary process above does not apply, including:

  • if the continued employment would be illegal
  • if there is a collective redundancy (defined as more than 20 employees being dismissed and where an employee representative or union representative has been informed)
  • if the employment unexpectedly becomes impossible; such as a sudden loss of premises
  • if the employee is being dismissed for taking industrial action

For further advice and clarification on disciplinary and grievance procedures, contact employment lawyers from Oratto today.