A Short Intro to Disciplinary Proceedings in the Workplace

Perfect HR exists to help business owners and directors in matters of employment law, such as disciplinary matters in the workplace.
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What is a disciplinary action at work?

This is the consequence of an employee not following your rules of engagement that are set out in your statement of main terms and conditions of employment and / or your employees handbook.

Do you have an issue that requires Disciplinary action to be take?

Are you having to arrange a Disciplinary Hearing with your employee? Contact Perfect HR now on 1010101*** or email info@perfecthr.co.uk to speak to our team of HR experts. We will ensure you follow the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary Grievance procedures. This is so important for any business when dealing with a formal Disciplinary procedure.

Why have a disciplinary procedure?

The Disciplinary Procedure should be used primarily to help and encourage employees to improve rather than just as a way of imposing punishment.

It should provide a method of dealing with any apparent shortcomings in conduct or performance and can help an employee to become effective again. The Disciplinary Procedure should be fair, effective, and consistently applied.

*This is an extract from The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures:

“Disciplinary situations include misconduct and/or poor performance. If employers have a separate capability procedure they may prefer to address performance issues under this procedure. If so, however, the basic principles of fairness set out in the Acas Code for Disciplinary Procedures, should still be followed, albeit that they may need to be adapted.”

What should disciplinary procedures contain?

When drawing up and applying Disciplinary Procedures, employers should always bear in mind principles of fairness. For example, employees should be informed of the allegations against them in writing, together with the supporting evidence, in advance of the meeting. Employees should be given the opportunity to challenge the allegations before decisions are reached and should be provided with a right to appeal.

Good disciplinary procedure should:


Be in writing


Be non-discriminatory


Provide for matters to be dealt with speedily


Allow for information to be kept confidential


Tell employees what disciplinary action might be taken


Say what levels of management have the authority to take the various forms of disciplinary action


Require employees to be informed of the complaints against them and supporting evidence, before a disciplinary meeting


Give employees a chance to have their say before management reaches a decision


Provide employees with the right to be accompanied


Provide that no employee is dismissed for a first breach of discipline, except in cases of Gross Misconduct


Apply to all employees, irrespective of their length of service, status or say if there are different rules for different groups.

Failure not to meet the Code of Practice laid out by Acas could result in a higher award if the matter goes to tribunal.

An example of discipline in practice

An employee who works in a small business makes a series of mistakes in letters to one of your key customers promising an impossible service that the company provides. The customer is extremely angry and upset at your firm’s failure to meet that service and threatens to take his business elsewhere. You are the owner of the business, so you carry out an investigation and invite the employee to a disciplinary meeting. You inform your employee of their right to be accompanied by a colleague or employee representative.

At the meeting the employee does not give a satisfactory explanation for the mistakes and admits that their training had covered the importance of agreeing a realistic service with their manager. During your investigation, the manager tells you, The Owner, they had stressed to the employee the importance of delivering the service with them before informing the customer. In view of the seriousness of the mistakes and the possible impact on the business, you issue the employee with a final written warning. You inform the employee verbally and in writing that failure to improve will lead to dismissal and of their right to appeal.

An outcome of a meeting in different circumstances:

At the disciplinary meeting, the employee reveals that their manager would not let your employee attend training as the Manager was too busy. Subsequently the Manager was absent sick, and the employee asked another Manager for help with setting the correct service the company provides. The Manager said he was too busy and told the employee to ‘use their initiative’. Your investigations support the employee’s explanation. You inform the employee that you will not be taking disciplinary action and arrange for your employee to be properly trained. You also decide to carry out a review of general management standards on supervision and training.

Disciplinary at work can be a very complex issue. Just Remember the Acas Disciplinary and Grievance at Work Procedure:
  • Establish the facts of each case
  • Hold a meeting with the employee to discuss the problem
  • Allow the employee to be accompanied at the meeting
  • Decide on appropriate action
  • Provide employees with an opportunity to appeal
  • It must be in writing and transparent

Take advantage of Perfect HR’s Free Service

If you are having  to undertake a disciplinary procedure, we are here to help. We will give you the advice you require to help solve your problem. The advice is up-to-date and can be actioned immediately. We make ensure you follow all aspects of the ACAS Code of Practice.

Our advice is free of charge, reducing stress, time and money and giving you peace of mind that you can cope with any issue an employee puts in front of you. Call Perfect HR on 1010101*** or email info@perfecthr.co.uk.


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