Disciplinary and Grievances

Why are Grievances important?

Workplace disputes should ideally be sorted out in the workplace. 

To help you do this, the ACAS Code on Disciplinary and Grievances was introduced in April 2009. It provides steps for an employer and employee to take, regarding disciplinary and grievance proceedings. 

Most employers have a grievance and disciplinary procedure that should be followed. Make sure you follow the procedure, especially any time limits. We can assist you in drafting a Disciplinary and Gievancee proceedure which will be appropriate to your company's circumstances.

How should employees raise a grievance?

The ACAS Code recommends that an employee should discuss any problem informally with a manager before raising a formal grievance. Then:

  • If the meeting outcome is unsatisfactory, a grievance should be raised in writing setting out the issues to be addressed
  • The Grievance should be addressed to the line manager, but if this grievance concerns the line manager then it should be addressed to another senior staff member
  • The employer should arrange a formal grievance meeting, allowing the employee sufficuent time to prepare for the meeting, and inform the employee they have the right to be accompanied
  • The employer will decide the appropriate action, and inform the employee in writing
  • If the employee is not satisfied with the outcome they should have the right to appeal this decision

How should disciplinary proceedings work?

When disciplining an employee, an employer should:

  • Fully investigate the matter
  • Decide if disciplinary action is necessary, or if an informal discussion is more appropriate
  • Tell the employee about the problem, and allow him or her to explain what happened
  • Inform the employee in writing about any planned disciplinary action, so the employee can be fully prepared
  • Hold a disciplinary hearing, allowing the employee to be accompanied, usually by a work colleague or trade union representative.  Ideally, the person hearing the disciplinary should not be involved in the disputed facts 

At a disciplinary hearing, an employer should:

  • Allow the employee to present their case, ask questions and present witnesses
  • Keep a note of what is said
  • Inform the employee in writing of the decision

Written warnings should state:

  • The improvement required
  • How long the warning will remain on file

Dismissals are appropriate:

  • If there has already been a written and a final written warning
  • In certain circumstances (gross misconduct)

In addition, an employer should:

  • Inform the employee they have a right to appeal the decision

Appeals should preferably be heard by a manager that has not been previously involved.

Disciplinary and grievance procedures often arise from the same incidents.  If so, the employer may consider temporarily suspending disciplinary proceedings to hear the grievance.

This allows the employee to put forward their side of the story, and avoid being prematurely disciplined.

What if the employer does not followed these procedures?

This may affect the fairness of any dismissal.  The employee may be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal.  If the employer (or the employee) has failed to follow the ACAS Code, the compensation awarded can be increased or decreased by up to 25%.

Getting in touch

To learn more about our Disciplinary and Grievances service, please call Carol Shaw on 01295 204140 or email cshaw@se-law.co.uk