If you are facing disciplinary action at work in England or Wales, the chances are that you will already have been given information about how the procedure will work from your employer.
There is a Code of Practise for Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures set out by ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) which offers guidance and best practice for use in the workplace and it is important to know if your employer is utilising this Code of Practice in your disciplinary process.
Whilst it is not compulsory for your employer to implement the advice given in the Code of Practice, if you do pursue a claim in the Employment Tribunal, this will be taken into account when calculating any compensation and can mean an uplift of up to 25% on any awards made where the employer was not utilising the ACAS Code of Practice.
In addition, where employers use the ACAS Code of Practice, it makes it much easier for you as an employee to be clear about the processes involved and feel that you have some understanding regarding the next steps in the disciplinary action you are facing.
The key items in the ACAS Code of Practice are:
- Your employer should investigate the issue properly and within a reasonable time period. This may include a meeting with you to explore the issues before the disciplinary hearing. Not all investigation meetings will result in disciplinary action being taken.
- You should be notified of any disciplinary action being taken against you in writing. This should also inform you about the nature of the disciplinary action, the potential consequences, along with any evidence and details about the date, time and location of the disciplinary hearing.
- You have the right to be accompanied at the disciplinary hearing and you should be given information about who can accompany you. You have to notify your employer who will be accompanying you.
- Once the meeting has taken place, your employer should notify you of the outcome in writing. You may receive confirmation that there was no case to answer or a sanction such as a verbal warning, a written warning, a final written warning or you may be dismissed. If you receive a verbal warning, a written warning or a final written warning, this should set out the issues, how to remedy them and the timescales involved. If you fail to respond to the warning within the time period stated, there may be further disciplinary action.
- If you have been dismissed, your employer must detail the reasons for dismissal as soon as possible. They should outline the date your employment will end, details of your notice period and provide information on the appeals process.
- If you want to appeal, you should write to your employer outlining the reasons for the appeal.
- An appeal hearing should be held as soon as possible and should be held by someone other than the person who held the disciplinary hearing wherever possible.
- You have the right to be accompanied at your appeal hearing.
- Your employer should inform you of the outcome of the appeal hearing as soon as possible.
If your employer does not follow this process it does not necessarily mean that you have been treated unfairly if you have been dismissed.
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