South Ayrshire Council. Report by Head of HR and Organisational Development to Leadership Panel of 19 April 2011

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1 South Ayrshire Council Agenda Item No. 3 (2) (k) Report by Head of HR and Organisational Development to Leadership Panel of 19 April 2011 Subject: Disciplinary Procedures 1. Purpose 1.1 The purpose of this report is to advise the Panel of the review of the Disciplinary Policy and the new Handbook for Managers. 2. Recommendation 2.1 It is recommended that the Panel approves the revised Disciplinary Policy. 3. Background 3.1 As a result of the recently revised ACAS Code of Practice for the handling of disciplinary and grievance situations in the workplace, there is a requirement to review current council policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the revised Code as well as the Equality Act Proposals 4.1 The Disciplinary Policy has been reviewed as a priority with the intention to conclude the review of the Grievance Policy prior to the summer recess. As part of the review, feedback was sought from managers and trade union colleagues to facilitate the development of revised policies and procedures which would add to the toolkit for managers in their day to day management of the workforce to be used living documents and a source of genuine practical advice and guidance. 4.2 The approach taken in the review of the Disciplinary Policy is consistent with the review and development of recent HR policies (for example Maximising Attendance), with a focussed, clearly defined policy supported by a Handbook for Mangers which provides greater detail, clarity and guidance for managers. This will be available on The Wire at: ateservices/humanresources/councilapprovedpoliciesandproce DURES/Managers%20Handbook- %20Disciplinary%20procedures%20March% doc 4.3 The learning and training for managers has also been revised and will follow the model of pre-course work assessing understanding of the policy, followed by practical intervention based on a case study approach. 4.4 The Trade Unions have been fully involved in the review of the policies and agree the final recommendations. The Trade Unions have been involved in the design of case studies and, where possible, will be involved in the practical intervention elements of the new course. 1

2 4.5 The Discipline Policy is attached (Appendix 1) with the key points to note: (1) Rather than separate policies for Local Government employees and Chief Officers, the opportunity has been taken to combine both policies while retaining the appropriate national elements and conditions for Chief Officers. (2) As set out in the ACAS Code of Practice, the right to be accompanied has been clarified as a colleague or accredited Trade Union representative. This means employees can no longer bring a person of their choice, which includes a solicitor, to any hearings. (3) The Managers Handbook provides greater clarity surrounding the process for fact finding investigations including a template for use - preparation for and conducting disciplinary hearings and deciding on appropriate action to be taken. (4) Specific examples have been incorporated to the Managers Handbook in relation to key areas including gross misconduct, absence, addiction and performance. (5) Standard templates for all potential correspondence have been incorporated into the Managers Handbook. 4.6 It is intended to implement the revised policy with immediate effect. This will be assisted through various communication methods including HR Managers/ Employee Circulars; team briefing across Directorates; weekly communication and JCC s. 5. Resource Implications 5.1 Financial None. 5.2 Legal None. 5.3 Human Resources 6. Risk The main employee implications surround the communication, awareness and application of this revised policy. 6.1 Risks are currently being managed within operational activities. 7. Equalities 7.1 An Equalities Impact Assessment has been carried out on this topic and there are no equalities implications. 8. Sustainable Development Implications 8.1 This report does not propose or seek approval for a plan, policy, programme or strategy or document otherwise described which could be considered to constitute a plan, programme, policy or strategy. 9. Options Appraisal 9.1 An options appraisal has not been carried out in relation to the subject matter of this report. 2

3 10. Link to Council s Corporate and Directorate Plans/ Improvement Programme 10.1 This policy is important to ensuring that the objectives in the Council s Corporate and Directorate Plans are delivered. 11. Results of Consultation (1) There has been no public consultation on the contents of this paper. (2) Consultation has taken place with Councillor Robin Reid, Portfolio Holder for Resources and Performance. (3) No consultation has taken place with local Members. (4) Consultation has taken place with Trade Unions. Background Papers Handbook for Managers VICEINFO/CorporateServices/HUMANRESOURCES/COUNCIL APPROVEDPOLICIESANDPROCEDURES/Managers%20Handb ook-%20disciplinary%20procedures%20march% doc Person to Contact Angela Wilson, Head of HR and Organisational Development, County Buildings, Wellington Square, Ayr KA7 1 DR Phone Date: 12 April

4 Appendix 1 DISCIPLINARY POLICY for Local Government Employees, Craft Operatives and Chief Officials HR and Organisational Development April

5 CONTENT PAGE 1. INTRODUCTION 3 2. LEGISLATION 3 3. KEY PRINCIPLES 3 4. RESPONSIBILITIES 5 5. APPLICATION OF POLICY 5 5

6 1. INTRODUCTION 1.1 South Ayrshire Council is committed to achieving fairness and equity in the treatment of individual employees in relation to their performance at work. Formal Disciplinary Procedures are essential to realising this aim. South Ayrshire Council will ensure that any disciplinary action taken within these procedures will be considered and applied fairly, be undertaken only in cases where adequate evidence exists, be appropriate to the nature of the offence that has been committed and allow the employee the right of appeal. Clear rules and procedures benefit both the Council as an employer and its employees. Rules set standards of conduct and performance at work; procedures help to ensure that the standards are adhered to and also provide a fair method of dealing with any alleged failure to observe these standards. Employees will be made aware of the standards of conduct and performance expected of them as set out in the Code of Conduct for Employees. The aim of this policy is to ensure consistent and fair treatment for all employees involved in their operation. All problems involving minor misconduct and poor performance should be dealt with, at least in the early stages, through the use of informal advice, guidance and counselling. It is essential that all problems of this nature are fully discussed with employees and that support is provided with the objective of encouraging and helping employees to improve. Where it is necessary to take disciplinary action, employees should be made aware of the support and counselling that is available. Where an employee is suspected of, or seeks help for, an addiction problem, support will be offered through the Council s Framework for Maximising Attendance at Work by referral to Occupational Health. There are separate procedures for Teaching Staff, details of which can be obtained from Human Resources. Advice and assistance on the application of this policy and procedure is available from Human Resources. 2. LEGISLATION 2.1 This policy and procedure complies with the provisions outlined in the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures and with and the Equality Act KEY PRINCIPLES 3.1 The key principles outlined in the policy apply to all local government employees, craft operatives and Chief Officials. Procedural guidance to accompany this policy has been developed to provide advice on the practical application of the disciplinary procedure. 3.2 The Chief Executive will be responsible for all matters affecting the discipline of Chief Officials, but it is recommended that, where formal disciplinary action is contemplated, the relevant Elected Members should be consulted. Consideration should also be given to what professional advice will be required in making an assessment of disciplinary matters. 3.3 Where disciplinary action is contemplated against the Chief Executive, it is recommended that investigation of the matter should be carried out by a committee of Elected Members with the Head of HR and Organisational Development acting 6

7 as an adviser. 3.4 Normally, no action in terms of these procedures will be taken against a trade union representative until the matter has been discussed with a full time official of the union concerned. 3.5 All officers with delegated authority to carry out disciplinary procedures will undertake appropriate training in the procedures. Any decision to impose disciplinary action will not be taken by the same person who conducted the investigation and no disciplinary action will be taken until all facts have been gathered for consideration. In certain extreme circumstances witness evidence may remain anonymous. This is a decision that will be taken by the Head of HR and Organisational Development following discussion with the relevant trade union representative(s). An employee removed from the workplace pending investigation or suspended during an investigation will be entitled to full pay. All aspects of the procedure will be completed timeously and without any unreasonable delay to meetings, decisions or confirmation of decisions. 3.6 Disciplinary action should not normally be taken against an employee until he/she has attended a properly convened hearing and been given the opportunity to respond to the allegations. If the employee wishes to be represented or accompanied during the process, this will be by a trade union representative or work colleague only and it is the responsibility of the employee to arrange for their representative to be present at any stage of the process. 3.7 Each Executive Director, or other nominated senior officer, has the power to apply all forms of disciplinary sanction including that of dismissal, subject to the employee's right of appeal against such disciplinary action. Human Resources should be fully involved at all stages particularly where dismissal is a potential outcome. Disciplinary sanctions may be initiated at any stage and do not need to start at the level of an oral warning. This decision will be totally dependent on the seriousness of the misconduct. Apart from acts of gross misconduct, an employee will not normally be dismissed for a first breach of discipline. Nor should an employee be dismissed or otherwise disciplined solely because he/she has been charged with or convicted of a criminal offence. Consideration needs to be given to whether the employee s conduct warrants action because of the implications for their employment. 3.8 An employee will be informed, in writing, of any disciplinary action taken, the reason for it, any improvements expected, the availability of appropriate support to achieve and maintain the improvement and the consequences of further misdemeanour. The employee must also be advised of their right of appeal against any disciplinary action and such appeals will not be heard by anyone with prior involvement in the investigatory process or in taking the original disciplinary action. 7

8 3.9 Where disciplinary action results in punitive action or dismissal, employees will have the right to appeal against these decisions to the Appeals Panel. Officers or Members hearing an appeal against disciplinary action will not have the power to increase the level of disciplinary action imposed at the disciplinary hearing Where required the Council will alert relevant Professional or Statutory Bodies of any disciplinary action taken against one of their members and where an employee is registered with an external body such as the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), Disclosure Scotland (PVG), or other professional body, the Council is required to make a formal report in instances such as: Dismissal Resignation during a disciplinary investigation Removal from the workplace during an investigation When the Council is made aware of any criminal conviction against such a worker Any other circumstances which the Council thinks might have a bearing on the worker s registration. In this event the employee and his/ her trade union will be advised. 4. RESPONSIBILITIES 4.1 Managers Each Executive Director or nominated senior manager is responsible for ensuring that all employees in their Directorate are made aware of the standards of conduct and performance expected of them, particularly the type of behaviour that might constitute gross misconduct. Where it has been necessary to undertake disciplinary procedures, each Executive Director or nominated senior manager will make employees aware of the support and counselling that is available and will ensure that disciplinary procedures are carried out in a fair and equitable manner. 4.2 Employees Employees are responsible for understanding and following the rules, standards and conduct that are expected of them in carrying out their day to day duties and as set out in the Councils Code of Conduct. They should make themselves aware of behaviour that might constitute gross misconduct 5. APPLICATION OF POLICY 5.1 The Managers Handbook provides additional information to managers on the application of the policy and procedures to be followed. This Handbook which is available on the Wire (insert wire link) has been subject to consultation with the joint trade unions and contains information on all aspects of discipline including: 8

9 Disciplinary procedures for local government employees, craft operatives and Chief Officials Types of disciplinary action Appeals Hearing and Appeals Panel Further information on fact finding, how to prepare for and conduct a disciplinary hearing and deciding on appropriate action Particular cases involving absence, addiction, criminal offences and grievances Appendices including the incident report form, a fact finding report template, procedures for special investigations, procedure for the appeal hearing and all standard letters. 5.2 The policy and procedure will be available for all employees to access. 9

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