- HR Services
- Employment Law Advice
- More HR Services
Last year the number of individual claims submitted to Employment Tribunals rose by 15% and in the first six months of this year the number of claims accepted by ETs has risen by over 50% compared with the same period last year.
So it’s fair to say that there's a good chance you may face an Employment Tribunal claim at some stage, if you haven't done so already.
Although the old 3-stage disciplinary procedure was scrapped last year and replaced with the new ACAS Code of Conduct, Employers still need to be thorough when it comes to taking disciplinary action with members of staff.
So in case you find yourself having to take disciplinary action this winter, here are some guidelines to help you avoid potential 'landmines' that could come back to haunt you if an appeal and/or Employment Tribunal claim is raised in the future.
1. Resolve discipline issues informally - an initial chat can work wonders
2. Develop rules and procedures - not having a discipline & grievance policy leaves you exposed
3. Keep written records - an audit trail is essential, especially if things escalate
4. Deal fairly with formal disciplinary action - it’s all about being reasonable
5. Establish the facts - conducting an investigation is critical and can also help save time
6. Inform the employee - if there's a disciplinary case to answer write to the employee to invite them to a formal hearing
7. Hold a disciplinary meeting
8. Allow the employee to be accompanied
9. Take appropriate action after the disciplinary meeting and inform the employee in writing
10. Provide employees with an opportunity to appeal
Every issue is different and although the framework of the ACAS code of conduct provides guidance, it is still ultimately up to the Employer to decide what action, if any is appropriate.
Although there is a general understanding amongst Employers that constructive and/or unfair dismissal claims can only be raised by employees with 12 months service, the fact is that the 12 month rule does NOT apply in cases of wrongful dismissal so it’s important when it comes to a decision to dismiss an employee that statutory and contractual obligations (oral or written) are fulfilled at all times.
Employers must be able to demonstrate why the action taken was justified should the decision end up being challenged in either an internal appeal or external Employment Tribunal.
The cost of getting thing wrong usually far outweighs the cost of getting it right so I would encourage Employers to review their current position in the first instance and to seek further advice to ensure they are fully up to date with current legislation and complying when addressing workplace issues.
If you have a strong understanding of Employment Law and the time, the Direct Gov Website is a great free resource:http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Employment/index.htm
If you area of expertise is running your business and that's where you dedicate your time, you can always ask us for a Free Quote