(If you don't have a formal discipinary procedure, we can help you produce one, together with other essential policies. It's a legal requirement to have formal disciplinary and grievance procedures if you employ staff.)
- Conduct investigation which may involve inviting employee (unaccompanied) to an investigation meeting
- If you decide to proceed with disciplinary proceedings, invite the employee (accompanied if they wish) to a disciplinary hearing. At the disciplinary meeting go through all the evidence objectively and allow the employee to present his case
- After the meeting decide whether disciplinary action is appropriate, and advise the employee in writing and notify them of their right to appeal
- Hear the appeal as soon as possible and notify them of outcome
The first thing you need to do is notify the employee that in accordance with your disciplinary procedure you are commencing an investigation. Then you should obtain statements from all parties as to what actually happened. If you need an appropriate letter, or a line manager briefing, we can assist. You may wish to invite the employee to an investigatory meeting to obtain his/her side of the story. At this stage it is just fact finding, and they are not entitled to be accompanied.
2. Disciplinary meeting
Once you have obtained everyone's account of what actually happened, you should invite the employee to a meeting to discuss the offence. Keep detailed notes of everything and make sure you provide the employee with copies of all the evidence prior to the meeting taking place.
You must remain objective at all times and should not reach a decision about the outcome of the meeting before it has taken place. If the meeting gets heated, adjourn for a while to allow everyone to calm down.
3. Disciplinary Action
After the meeting, decide what action, if any, you wish to take. This could be a verbal warning, final warning or, in the case of gross misconduct, dismissal. Advise the employee in writing of the decision. Also advise them of their right to appeal and how they should do this.
Any appeal should be heard as early as possible, ideally by a different manager, who must reach their own conclusion based on the facts of the original hearing and the basis of the appeal. If you are a small company, then the same manager may also hear the appeal - again, keep an open mind.
After the appeal, notify the employee of the decision and the consequences.
Be Fair and Objective
At all stages, be fair and remain objective, follow your disciplinary procedure (or the the ACAS code) and keep detailed records of everything.
Failure to conduct an objective investigation will put your company at a severe disadvantage if it ever goes to Tribunal. And you will almost certainly fail miserably if it's proven that you had already decided an outcome before following the disciplinary procedure.
Give us a call if you need assistance.