Misconduct is a broad term that covers all behaviour that an employer considers to be unacceptable. The scope of misconduct ranges from reasonably minor infringements such as persistent lateness, through to gross misconduct such as theft or violence.
You should ensure that employees understand what you consider to be misconduct and the possible consequences of such behaviour.
How you deal with misconduct varies, but should be reasonable and consistent according to the severity of the offence. Minor misconduct, or one-off occurrences can often most effectively be dealt with informally, achieving the desired results. More serious offences may justify using a disciplinary procedure, with the most serious misconduct (sometimes called gross misconduct) possibly resulting in dismissal.
Even in cases of gross misconduct, you still need to carry out a fair and reasonable investigation and give the employee chance to provide a defence. Dismissing someone on-the-spot for gross misconduct could lead to problems for you.
Contact ForHR for advice.
An organisation should make it clear to employees what is expected of them and what will happen if they act in a way that is detrimental to the organisation or its employees. You should do this with a written disciplinary procedure.
Typically a disciplinary procedure will consist of a number of stages including investigation, hearings, and appeals; and it is usual to base this on the ACAS code of practice, since not following this code can lead to a higher award if the employer ends losing a claim of unfair dismissal in front of the Employment Tribunal.
Wherever possible, you should try to resolve issues informally, but this depends on the situation and the nature of the allegations.
The disciplinary procedure should be carried out in a timely manner, since it may be considered unfair if there is unnecessary delay.
For most employers, carrying out disciplinary action is an unpleasant experience, but It is one of the main things they need to do correctly. Having clear guidelines to follow can help manage these difficult situations.
The management of the disciplinary process is very important, since it is quite possible to lost a claim of unfair dismissal because of your failure to follow a fair procedure, even if the employee has done something they clearly should not have done. Whilst you might not have to pay the claimant much in this situation, employment tribunals are costly in terms of time and reputation.
It is also important that employees know you will deal with disciplinary issues consistently; perceived unfairness is a major contributor to poor morale.
ForHR can help you with disciplinary management
We can support you in these situations by
- advising on misconduct or gross misconduct
- advising on the process (providing scripts if required)
- advising on whether or not to suspend the employee
- advising on or carrying out investigations
- attending hearings to advise and/or take notes
- chairing hearings (not normally recommended)
- advising on disciplinary action
- providing template letters or writing letters for you
- reviewing outcomes and making recommendations
- training or coaching managers on disciplinary management.
Your disciplinary procedure is one of the most important elements in the employment relationship and correct disciplinary management is vital.
For expert help speak to ForHR and we will make sure you get it right.