On 6 April 2009, the statutory dismissal and disciplinary procedures (SDDPs) will be repealed in England, Wales and Scotland. This will mean that you no longer have to follow them when you take disciplinary action against an employee within your business.
If you have to deal with a disciplinary issue or dismissal to which the statutory procedures no longer apply, you will still have to follow a fair and reasonable procedure.
It will be expected of your business to follow the good-practice advice set out in the revised ACAS code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. If you fail to do so and the issue ends up at an employment tribunal, the tribunal could increase the employee’s compensation by up to 25 per cent.
Below are the key points of the ACAS Code of Practice for disciplinary and grievance procedures for you here. You should read and make sure you fully understand all points before entering into any disciplinary and grievance proceedings.
ACAS Codes of Practice Effective from April 2009 and replaces the Statutory Disciplinary & Dismissal Procedure (SDDP)
Tribunals will take the Code into account and may increase or reduce awards by up to 25% where either employer or employee has unreasonably failed to follow its provisions
Procedures should be – in writing, specific and clear
All disciplinary and grievance matters are to be dealt with promptly and consistently
Employees have the opportunity to put their case forward before any decision is made
Employees reserve the right to be accompanied by a work colleague or trade union representative during any grievance and disciplinary proceedings
ACAS state there is the right of appeal against any decision made
Grievance and disciplinary investigations are to be prompt, full and impartial
The right to be accompanied does not apply to (purely) investigatory meetings
“If it is decided that there is a disciplinary case to answer, the employee should be notified of this in writing. This notification should contain sufficient information about the alleged misconduct or poor performance and its possible consequences to enable the employee to prepare to answer the case at a disciplinary meeting” It would normally be appropriate to provide copies of any written evidence, which may include any witness statements, within this written notification
ACAS Code of Practice also states at the grievance and disciplinary hearing –
“The employee should be allowed to set out their case and answer any allegations that have been made. The employee should also be given a reasonable opportunity to ask questions, present evidence and call relevant witnesses. They should also be given an opportunity to raise points about any information provided by witnesses. Where an employer or employee intends to call relevant witnesses they should give advance notice that they intend to do this”
Apart from the provision to call witnesses there really is little that’s new within the ACAS Code of Practice for Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures, but it is essential that you familiarise yourself with these key points