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You need to have clear rules outlining what will happen if employees commit an offence in the workplace. Our checklist tells you what to include.
- Contact Acas for their Code of Practice. Your procedures must be fair and transparent and must not discriminate.
- Put your procedures in writing and communicate them to all employees, for example, through a handbook. Ensure they understand the rules and their rights.
- Identify what issues your disciplinary procedure needs to cover such as work performance, theft, discriminatory, offensive or inappropriate behaviour.
- Classify offences: minor offences, repeated minor offences, misconduct and gross misconduct are the most commonly used categories.
- Provide examples of misconduct; do not try to produce an exhaustive list or be too specific if the offence can be a matter of degree.
- Describe offences constituting gross misconduct, meriting dismissal. Consider whether an employment tribunal would agree with you.
- Set up a series of warning steps for offenders: for example, oral warning for minor offences, written warning, final written warning and ultimately dismissal.
- Set up a procedure for holding formal disciplinary interviews; decide who will have the authority to hold meetings and take disciplinary action.
- Follow your procedures. Take informal action where possible. Where formal action is required, explain in writing what the problem is, arrange a face-to-face meeting to discuss the problem and allow for an appeal if the employee is unhappy with the outcome.
- Reserve the right to enter the procedure at a level justified by the severity of the offence (eg an immediate final warning for serious misconduct).
- Investigate the circumstances before dismissing a member of staff – even in the case of gross misconduct.
- Set timescales for the stages of the disciplinary process, allowing time for improvements before issuing further warnings.
- Decide on a record-keeping system and how long warnings will remain in effect before they lapse.
- Ensure that your procedure respects employees’ rights: for example, to be accompanied by a colleague at a hearing and to be treated fairly.
- Train managers; stress the need to be fair and consistent and to keep written records.
- Continue to use informal warnings to handle one-off minor offences.