DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE

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1 DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE INTRODUCTION These procedures are compliant with the ACAS code of practice and are designed to help and encourage staff at Pilgrims Hospice to achieve and maintain required standards of conduct, work performance and attendance, and to provide a fair and consistent method of dealing with alleged failures. At every stage in the procedure the employee will be advised of the nature of the complaint against him/her and will be given the opportunity to state his/her case before any decision is made. This procedure may be entered into at any stage if the employee's alleged failure to achieve required standards is of such a serious nature that it warrants such action. No employee will be dismissed for a first breach of discipline except in the case of gross misconduct when the consequence will be dismissal without notice or payment in lieu of notice. No disciplinary action beyond an oral warning will be taken against a trade union officer or recognised representative until the circumstances of the case have been discussed with a senior trade union officer or the full-time official of the trade union. In circumstances that would ordinarily warrant summary dismissal a trade union officer may be suspended in accordance with this procedure. A representative from the Human Resource Department may be involved at any stage in the procedure. An employee has the right to appeal against any disciplinary penalty which is imposed. For new employees in their probation period, please see the probation procedure for details on disciplinary issues. Depending on the circumstances, the organisation may ask for a thorough investigation to be conducted to help ascertain if disciplinary action is warranted. Staff are asked to comply with any investigation. An investigation is not a formal disciplinary meeting and as such, representation by a work colleague or trade union representative is not required. PROCEDURE Stage One Informal action (Informal Oral Warning) KEY POINTS Informal action may often be a more satisfactory method of resolving problems than holding a formal disciplinary meeting. This informal action would be a discussion between the employee and the Line Manager with the objective of encouraging and helping the employee to improve. Both parties will agree some target areas for improvement. 1

2 WHAT DO WE MEAN BY INFORMAL ACTION? In many cases the right word at the right time and in the right way may be all that is needed, and will often be a more satisfactory way of dealing with a breach of rules, or unsatisfactory performance, than a formal meeting. Additional training, coaching and advice may be needed, and both manager and employee should be aware that formal processes will start if there is no improvement or if any improvement fails to be maintained. WHAT WILL HAPPEN? The Line Manager and the employee will meet in private for a two way discussion. The discussion will involve talking about the alleged shortcomings and will seek ways to encourage improvement. It may of course become evident that there is not a problem and if this is the case, will be made clear to the employee. A record of the meeting may be kept using the attached informal oral warning form. The meeting will agree targets to be achieved and timescales to be met. The Line Manager and employee will set a date to meet again to discuss progress. It may become apparent during the discussion that the matter is more serious and a formal meeting is required. The employee will, in these circumstances, be advised of this and another meeting arranged on a more formal basis. Stage Two Formal action (Formal Oral Warning, Written Warning or Final Written Warning) KEY POINTS In the event of the employee failing to respond to the informal oral warning or where the misconduct or the failure to achieve required standards is of a more serious nature, formal action will be taken. The following procedure will be adopted: An investigation will be conducted by an appropriate person and in all cases someone other than the disciplining manager. Pilgrims Hospice reserves the right to suspend any employee on full pay whilst the investigation is being conducted, if it is thought the allegations warrant such action. This will be confirmed in writing. The employee will be required to attend a disciplinary interview conducted by an appropriate manager, usually the Line Manager in the first instance. Prior to the interview, the employee will be advised in writing of the nature of the allegation and notified of their right to attend the interview with either a Trade Union representative or a work colleague. Where there is any relevant documentation, this will be made available to all parties in advance of the interview. If appropriate, the identity of statement makers can be protected. At the interview the employee will be given the opportunity to make a statement in reply to the allegation and may call witnesses. As soon as practicable after the interview the employee will be advised in writing of the outcome. This will be no later than 5 days after the interview. 2

3 A copy of the notes taken during the interview will be sent to the employee. If the employee does not offer any amendments within 7 days of receipt, agreement that the notes are an accurate record will be assumed. Notice will be given in advance of any interview. Every attempt should be made for all parties to attend the interview. If this is not possible, one further date may be set. If an employee fails to attend an interview without reason, a further date will be set at which the meeting will take place regardless of their attendance. WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE MEETING? The following warnings may be issued: A formal oral warning - retained on file for 6 months A first written warning - retained on file for 6 months A final written warning - retained on file for 12 months No further action may be taken In the case of all warnings issued, the warning will detail the areas for improvement and the timescales for such improvement. A copy of the warning will be kept on the employees personnel file. Once the above file retention timescale has been reached and no further disciplinary action has been taken, the warning will be considered spent. Managers will meet employees periodically for the duration of the warning to ensure progress is being made. A note of these meetings will be kept by managers. The employee will be required to acknowledge, in writing, receipt of the Warning and will be advised of his/her right of appeal. Stage Three Dismissal If the employees conduct or performance fails to improve after a final written warning has been issued, the final step may be dismissal. Such a decision will only be made by the Chief Executive (or another member of the EET in his absence). The employee will be required to attend a meeting to be informed of this decision and the reasons for it. The employee may be accompanied by a Trade Union representative or a work colleague. At this meeting, the employee will be advised of the date on which the dismissal will be effective, the appropriate period of notice if applicable, and the appeal procedure. This information will be confirmed in writing to the employee. Stage Four Summary Dismissal In the event of gross misconduct or serious breach of contract, Pilgrims Hospice has the right to dismiss summarily, without notice or payment in lieu of notice. In such circumstances it is likely that the employee will normally be suspended on full pay pending an investigation or formal disciplinary hearing. During the period of suspension, the employee will not be required to attend the workplace at any time unless there is a requirement to attend an investigation meeting and/or formal disciplinary hearing. This will be advised in writing. The Chief Executive or a member of the EET can authorise a 3

4 suspension. If the investigation has found that it is appropriate to move to a formal disciplinary hearing, this will take place as soon as practicable following an investigation and will be conducted by an appropriate Senior Manager. Advice will have been sought from HR who will be present at the hearing to take notes. The employee will be told in advance of the disciplinary hearing the nature of the complaint which has been made and their right to be accompanied by a Trade Union representative or a work colleague. The employee or employer may call witnesses to attend the interview or supply documents relevant to the case. The line manager who has initiated the complaint of gross misconduct or serious breach of contract will attend the hearing and will be responsible for presenting the details of the complaint which has been made. The employee then has a right of reply. The Manager and the employee/union representative or colleague may pose questions of one another and call witnesses. Details of all witness must be provided in advance. If the decision is that the employee be dismissed, this will be confirmed in writing within two working days. If the employee was accompanied by a union representative or work colleague they also will receive a copy of the letter. An appeal may be made against the decision, by the employee, after the employee has left Pilgrims Hospice. The decision to dismiss will stand until such an appeal is concluded. The Nursing and Midwifery Council will be advised if a registered nurse is dismissed for gross misconduct. The GMC will be advised if a Doctor is dismissed for Gross Misconduct. APPEALS An employee wishing to appeal a formal oral warning, written warning or final written warning must put this in writing to the person named as the appeal manager within 5 days of the notice of the warning being issued. An employee wishing to appeal against Dismissal must submit in writing within 15 working days of the written notice of Dismissal, a notice of appeal to the Head of Human Resources to pass onto the Chief Executive. If the Chief Executive chaired the hearing, then this will be passed to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. In all cases, the notice of appeal must indicate the specific grounds for appeal which may be: a. A procedural irregularity b. New facts coming to light that were not known during the hearing c. The penalty was too severe for the case in question The purpose of the appeal hearing is not to re-hear the disciplinary case, but to consider whether the evidence provided by the employee under a, b, or c above alters the decision reached at the original disciplinary hearing. The procedure to be followed at all hearings of appeals against disciplinary action will be as follows: i The employee and employer/manager will be given notice in writing, in advance, of the time and place of the hearing. This hearing will be within 15 days of the appeal notice being received. ii iii The employee may be accompanied at the hearing by a Trade Union Representative or a work colleague, and the employer may be accompanied by such members of his/her staff as he/she considers may be able to assist the appeal manager or the Chairman of the Board of Trustees in determining the case. The employee or employer/manager may call witnesses to attend the hearing and/or supply 4

5 documents relevant to the case. The names of witnesses and copies of documents must be provided to all parties well in advance. v vi vii The employee will be responsible for presenting the specific grounds for appeal. The employer/manager then has a right of reply. The appeal manager or the Chairman of the Board of Trustees will then deliberate in private. The decision will be communicated as soon as practically possible, and confirmed in writing within 5 days. It is open to the appeal manager or the Chairman of the Board of Trustees to substitute some other disciplinary action. The decision of the Appeal Panel will be final. GROSS MISCONDUCT A member of staff's employment may be terminated summarily without notice at any time on the ground of gross misconduct. Generally this includes any breach of duty or conduct which brings Pilgrims Hospice into disrepute or action that constitutes a breach of mutual trust and confidence. In particular, this includes: 1 Theft or Unauthorised Possession - of any property belonging to Pilgrims Hospice or to members of staff and to patients or visitors to the Hospice; misuse of Hospice services. 2 Vandalism - wilful damage to any property within the buildings or grounds of Pilgrims Hospice, irrespective of ownership. 3 Physical/Verbal Abuse - of fellow employees, patients or visitors, including assault, threats and/or threatening behaviour. 4. Discrimination or Harassment/Bullying. 5. Abuse of Alcohol/Drugs - incapacity due to consumption of alcohol or non-prescribed drugs. 6 Record Keeping Offences - any matter concerning the abuse of time sheets, knowingly making false entries in Hospice records or other official documents. 7 Forgery and/or Misrepresentation e.g. of references or qualifications. 8 Private Activity - unauthorised use of Pilgrims Hospice property, time and or facilities for private activities, whether or not for financial gain. 9 Breach of Health and Safety Regulations - failure to adhere to legal and/or Hospice requirements. 10 Criminal Offences - conviction by a court of law for any offence which is considered by Pilgrims Hospice to be damaging to its interests, or rendering the individual unsuitable to his/her type of work or unacceptable to other employees. 11 Breach of any Condition of Employment e.g. unauthorised absence, conflict of interests 12 Personal and/or Confidential Matters - interference into personal and/or confidential matters related to the Hospice, another members of staff, patients or visitors, including disclosure of confidential/personal information in any unauthorised circumstances or to unauthorised persons. 13 Failure to obey Legitimate Instructions - insubordination and/or refusal without reasonable cause, to carry out a legitimate instruction given by an authorised member of staff. 14 Professional Misconduct not abiding by the published code of practice or breach of boundaries in health care relationships. 15 Being a disruptive influence and inciting others to follow this example This list is not exhaustive, and the penalty, which applies for a particular offence, may vary according to the exact circumstances of the case. Lead and Author Head of Human Resources 5

6 Date April 2010 Policy Version No Policy application Hospice wide Approving body Review April

7 Informal Oral Warning Staff Name: Line Manager: Date: Time: The reasons for this warning are as follows: Unsatisfactory work performance Unsatisfactory conduct Poor timekeeping Unacceptable attendance record Unauthorised absence Failure to carry out duties in a safe and reasonable manner Other (please give detail below) Please state briefly the circumstances of the Oral Warning Please state the targets agreed Review date: Signed Line Manager: Signed employee: 7

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