For even the most experienced HR professionals the area of discipline and dismissals can be a tough topic to broach. At our HR Focusfair, the experts at Russell Cooke will share valuable advice to help you manage the disciplinary process fairly, as well as ensuring you comply with the ACAS Code. Jane Klauber, partner at Russell Cooke, will run a workshop on the day which covers how to deal with all things discipline and dismissal. Below we take a look at the pitfalls of the disciplinary procedure and give a rundown on the essential measures to follow.
DO Comply with ACAS Code
- The ACAS Code on disciplinary and grievance matters sets out the basic requirements of fairness when it comes to disciplinary procedures and is there to help both employers and employees deal with issues in the workplace. Although HR professionals aim to avoid escalation to employment tribunals, failure to follow the ACAS code will be considered if your particular case does end up going to tribunal.
DO Ensure your disciplinary procedure is flexible
- It would be easy to think that making disciplinary procedures contractual would be the best way forward as both parties would be aware of their requirements. However, if the procedure is contractual there is no room for flexibility and as we all know, the relationships between employer and employee are always varied and concerns can be very distinct from one another. With a contractual procedure, problems can also come about if you fail to adhere to it, for whatever reason, and you may find yourself with a claim of unfair dismissal.
DO Consider alternative sanctions to dismissals
- Dismissing employees should be a last resort and employers should consider including alternatives to dismissal such as redeployment in their disciplinary procedure.
DON’T Be too prescriptive
- The ACAS Code is designed on a set of principles which promote good practice over inflexible procedures. Your approach should be tailored depending on the situation, whilst still working within the ACAS guidelines.
DON’T Include unnecessary stages e.g. formal verbal warnings
- Steps such as a formal verbal warning are a drain on executive time and represent a cost for the charity.
DON’T Impose warnings that will expire too quickly to progress the process
- If you feel there is no other option but to issue an employee with a warning for certain behaviours then a number of things should be taken into consideration. A first written warning should outline where the problem lies as well as how long the warning will last to allow for changes in performance or behaviour. Warnings should always specify the improvement that is needed and allow a reasonable period for meeting targets.
About Jane Klauber
Jane is a partner in the charity and social business team at Russell Cooke, advising Chief Executives and trustees on sensitive staffing problems. Her practice covers contentious and non-contentions work including: disciplinaries, grievance, restructuring and redundancy, handling performance management, managing absence and defending employment Tribunal claims.