The impact of the pandemic has considerably changed the working landscape and businesses face further challenges in adapting their working practices as lockdown eases and employees return to the office.
ACAS has updated its guidance on how to deal with disciplinary and grievance procedures during the pandemic. The guidance contains suggested adjustments that employers may need to make when implementing the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
The ACAS guidance considers:
- The impact of processes when employees are on furlough
- The importance of employers meaningfully considering the individual circumstances of each employee, before deciding on any action
- The mental health challenges during the pandemic
- The impact of social distancing on the dismissal procedure, i.e. working remotely
For more information on dealing with disciplinary matters please contact our team today on 01223 855441.
How does the ACAS Code apply to disciplinary situations?
The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures applies to disciplinary situations – which includes misconduct and/or poor performance.
Dealing with disciplinary situations – an overview
When dealing with disciplinary situations, it is important to remember to follow a fair process. You will need to hold an investigation to establish the facts of the case which may require an investigatory meeting. You may also need to consider suspension with pay in extreme circumstances. If following the investigation, the alleged misconduct warrants a disciplinary hearing then the employee should be informed in writing. They should also be informed they have the right to be accompanied to the meeting by a co worker or trade union representative. The disciplinary meeting should be held, where possible by someone different to the person who held the investigation. The meeting should be held without unreasonable delay but should give the employee sufficient time to prepare their defence which may include calling witnesses. All parties to the meeting should make every effort to attend.
When deciding in appropriate action, you must take all the evidence into consideration whilst removing personal bias as much as possible. It can be tricky to decide on the appropriate sanction and it must be reasonable to the misconduct. The person giving the sanction must also have the authority to do so and this should be outlined in your disciplinary policy. The employee is entitled to be given the outcome of the hearing in writing and they should be informed they have the right of appeal.
- Where the employer is considering disciplinary action against an employee who is a Trade Union representative, the disciplinary procedure should be followed, but it is advisable, on obtaining the employee’s agreement, to discuss the matter at an early stage with an official employed by the Union.
- Employee’s charged/convicted with a criminal offence – this is not in itself reason for disciplinary action, but the employer should consider whether the employee’s suitability to do the job is affected.
How does the ACAS Code apply to grievance situations?
The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures defines a grievance to include: “concerns, problems or complaints that employees raise with their employers.”
Please note that employees no longer have to raise a grievance before presenting a claim to an Employment Tribunal; however any compensation awarded could be reduced by up to 25%.
Grievance situations – an overview
If the matter cannot be resolved informally, the employee should raise the matter in writing with the employer without unreasonable delay. This written notice should set out the nature of the grievance. Once the employer has received the written grievance a formal meeting should be held without unreasonable delay. All parties to the meeting should make every effort to attend. Employees should be allowed to explain the grievance and how they feel it may be resolved. If any investigation is necessary the meeting may be adjourned in order for this to be carried out. The employee has the right to be accompanied to the meeting by a co worker or a trade union representative.
Once the meeting has taken place, the employer must decide on what action, if any, to take. The employer should inform the employee of this decision in writing without unreasonable delay, and the written decision may set out the action the employer wishes to take. The employee should be informed that they can appeal if they are not satisfied with the action taken.
The ACAS Code does not apply to grievances raised by a representative of a recognised Trade Union or workplace representative on behalf of two or more employees. In such cases, the grievance should be resolved via the organisation’s collective grievance procedures.
Read more in this series of blogs “Back to work”
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