Understanding discipline in the workplace
Disciplinary rules and procedures are important in a workplace to set out the boundaries of acceptable conduct and satisfactory performance, and to ensure fair and equal treatment of all employees. Since 1977 there has been a Code of Practice on disciplinary practice and procedures issued by ACAS. A revised version of the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures came into effect on 6 April 2009. The Code must be taken into account by an Employment Tribunal in situations to which it applies. It is also important that employees know what standards of conduct and performance are expected of them. The written particulars of employment that must be provided to every employee under the provisions of the Employment Rights Act 1996 must contain any disciplinary rules that do exist and indicate the person to whom employees can apply if they are dissatisfied with any disciplinary decision. If an employment contract contains a disciplinary procedure that is contractual, then failure to follow this will be a breach of contract and may result in the employee’s resignation and a claim for constructive dismissal. In addition, all employment contracts contain an implied duty of mutual trust and confidence. Failure to operate a disciplinary procedure in a fair and reasonable manner when applying a disciplinary sanction may also result in a resignation and a claim that mutual trust and confidence has been breached. It is a legal requirement for employers to have a written disciplinary policy and procedure and for it to be provided to all employees. In addition, it is recommended that all managers receive training in applying this procedure, something which is also required by the revised ACAS Code of Practice. 1.2
At our organisation the disciplinary policy and procedures are stated in the employee handbook, together with employment policies and procedures. This gives every employee a transparent view and understanding of that all the policies and procedures are open and fair. Also all employees have a company induction and managers will go through extra in-house training courses of which one is ‘disciplinary and grievance skills’ to guide us in any dealings. Performance management, absence, time-keeping, discrimination is some of the company’s policies and procedure set in place and used in any dealings. Poor performance cannot be ignored and is one area where disciplinary action may be considered. It is however important to consider whether poor performance is a conduct or capability issue. How we deal with poor performance fairly;
Discuss with the employee to find out the cause –lack of training, problems at home etc. Clarify and agree standards.
Offer training and support.
Monitor progress and review at later date.
If no progress –consider whether capability or conduct issue and whether employee may be dismissed or transferred to alternative duties. ref Strand Palace Hotel Employee Handbook
The disciplinary procedure is designed to help and encourage all employees to achieve and maintain satisfactory standards of performance, conduct and attendance. It aims to remind employees of what is expected of them, give them a chance –if needed, to improve their performance, conduct or attendance and prevent unsatisfactory performance, conduct or attendance which affects customers or impacts on the business. Most cases of issues will be discussed through an informal counselling session with a manager, but if these fail to result in the necessary improvement, formal disciplinary action can be taken. The following principles apply:
A minimum 24 hour notice in writing of any disciplinary meeting is given. The nature of the complaint which has resulted in the disciplinary meeting will be advised in writing. The written notice will be handed in person or sent to home address. The employee is given an opportunity at the disciplinary hearing to state their case...
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