Riccall Pre-school Staff Disciplinary Procedure

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1 Riccall Pre-school Staff Disciplinary Procedure Staff Management and Development It is important that staff are managed well from the beginning, to benefit the setting as a whole and the staff themselves. The Management Committee (employer) is the line manager for the Lead Practitioner (Manager) is responsible for ensuring that he/she is: providing good care for the children, managing the other staff satisfactorily, fulfilling the policies of the group, reporting back as appropriate to the Management Committee. The Lead Practitioner is the line manager for all other members of staff, through a deputy if appropriate. Staff should be clearly informed, before they take up employment, about the standards, attitudes and policies of Riccall Pre-school and about what will be required of them. Disciplinary procedure The aim of a disciplinary procedure is to achieve a fair, effective and consistent method of dealing with disciplinary and performance matters. A grievance procedure enables an employee to raise complaints relating to her/his employment with her/his manager. Whenever there is a need to conduct a disciplinary or grievance process, the Management Committee must ensure that the procedure is followed. The Employment Act 2002 (Disputes Resolution) Regulations 2004, requires that in almost all instances where an employer is considering taking disciplinary action that will result in dismissal or a penalty other than oral or formal warning, a three stage procedure must be followed. The procedure is a statutory minimum procedure. If an employer acts in breach of it there is a possibility that any penalty issued as a result of the procedure will be considered to be unfair. The process below should be followed to ensure compliance with the standard statutory (three step) dismissal and disciplinary procedure. The employer must ensure that these 3 steps are followed. Step one The employer must prepare a written statement of the employee s alleged conduct or characteristics, or of the circumstance which have lead to the contemplation of taking disciplinary action. The employer must send the statement to the employee including any evidence that will be relied upon at the meeting and, invite her/him to attend a disciplinary meeting to discuss the matter. The employee should also be informed of their right to be accompanied by a work colleague or trade union representative. Employees should be given an appropriate amount of notice of the meeting in order to prepare their response. Page 1 of 5

2 Step two A disciplinary meeting must take place before any disciplinary action is taken, (except where the action in question consists of suspension pending a disciplinary meeting). The employer must invite the employee to a disciplinary hearing at a reasonable time and place and the employee must take all reasonable steps to attend. At the meeting, the employer should ensure that the circumstances of the complaint against the employee are fully discussed and that the employee is provided with an opportunity to respond to the management case. The lead practitioner will then decide whether or not to issue a disciplinary penalty. The outcome of the disciplinary meeting must be confirmed in writing, to include the right of appeal and to whom to address any appeal letter. Step three If the employee wishes to appeal he or she must inform the employer. You should request that all appeals are in writing, clearly setting out the grounds for appeal, within seven working days of the date of the disciplinary meeting letter. Normally an appeal meeting will be arranged with the employee together with, where possible, a different panel that heard the original disciplinary hearing. This may not always be possible but groups must seek to establish whether committee members that have not been involved previously are able to hear the appeal. If the same panel hears the appeal and the employee brings a claim you may be asked to justify why a different panel did not hear the appeal and failure to do so could lead to a find of unfair dismissal. Try to hear the appeal as soon as reasonably possible; certainly within 20 days. The employee may be accompanied by a work colleague or trade union representative. The final decision should be communicated to the employee in writing; try to achieve this within a 14 day period. The statutory right to be accompanied at disciplinary meetings The right to be accompanied at disciplinary meetings is contained in the Employment Relations Act 1999 and came into force in September The right will apply to disciplinary meetings which could result in a formal warning or some other disciplinary action. Further information relating to the accompanying person is below: The person who accompanies the worker may be a colleague, a full-time or lay trade union officer or a workplace representative. There is no duty to accept a request to accompany a worker and no pressure should be brought to bear on someone who does not wish to act as a companion. Fellow workers who are to be in attendance should be allowed a reasonable amount of paid time off to fulfil this responsibility. Where a disabled person has to attend a disciplinary hearing, the Code of Practice issued under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) stresses that Employers will have to ensure that grievance (or disciplinary) procedures do not, in themselves, discriminate against disabled employees and may have to make some reasonable adjustments to ensure disciplinary procedures have the same impact on disabled employees as on others. Page 2 of 5

3 Conducting the disciplinary meeting The chosen companion will have no legal right to answer questions on the employee s behalf, but will have a right to address the hearing and should be allowed to ask questions. The companion should also be allowed to confer privately with the employee. What if the companion cannot attend on the date set? Where the chosen companion is not available on the date proposed for the hearing, the employee will be able to propose an alternative date, provided it is reasonable and falls no more than five working days after the day proposed by the employer. In proposing an alternative date the employee should take into account the availability of the persons conducting the disciplinary meeting. It is imperative that at least one of the individuals that will sit on the panel at a disciplinary meeting or appeal meeting has attended relevant training to ensure that they understand and know how to use and operate the procedure. ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures The employer must be able to show that a fair procedure has been followed. Essentially, this means in most cases complying with the recommendations set out in the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, together with a right for workers to be accompanied at disciplinary and grievance hearings. The procedure contained in this publication has been designed to reflect the advice set out in the code, the key points of which are as follows: It should be non-discriminatory. Disciplinary matters should be dealt with quickly and within specified time limits. It should address the issue of confidentiality. An indication should be provided of the disciplinary action that might be taken. Employees should be told of the complaint against them and be given a full opportunity to state their case before a decision is taken. It should inform workers of the statutory, and any other, right to be accompanied. Employees should not normally be dismissed for a first offence, other than gross misconduct. No disciplinary action should be taken before there has been a full investigation. An explanation of the penalty should be given. Employees should have a right of appeal, normally to a higher level management or the owner/committee. Time limits for warnings Except in agreed circumstances any disciplinary action taken should be disregarded for disciplinary purposes, after a specified period of satisfactory conduct. This period should be clearly established when the disciplinary procedure is being drawn up. Normal practice involves setting different periods for different types of warnings. In general, warnings for minor offences may be valid for up to six months, whilst final warnings may remain in force for twelve months or more. Warnings should cease to be live following the specified period of satisfactory conduct and should be disregarded for future disciplinary purposes. There may, however, be occasions when an employee s conduct is satisfactory throughout the period a Page 3 of 5

4 warning is in force, only to lapse very soon thereafter. Where a pattern emerges and there is evidence of abuse, the employee s disciplinary record should be born in mind when deciding how long any current warning should last. Exceptionally, there may be circumstances where the conduct is so serious verging on gross misconduct, that it cannot realistically be disregarded for future disciplinary purposes. In such circumstances it should be made very clear that the final written warning can never be removed and that any recurrence will lead to dismissal. N.B. Discussion of employment issues must be kept confidential. Managing Sickness Absence Sickness absence can have a significant impact on the running of an early years setting. Absences are likely to have an impact on the costs, quality of the service and morale of other employees. The basic principles in managing sickness absence are as follows: Accurate sickness records are kept. Staff are made aware of sickness notification and certification procedures. Return to work interviews and appropriate sickness meetings take place, to establish the nature of the absence and to agree remedies; and sickness absences are investigated, and medical advice is sought if necessary. What does the return to work interview involve? Before the interview, the line manager should obtain a copy of the employee s sickness and holiday record and identify any trends as well as any issues that may be impacting on attendance. The purpose of this interview is to (where appropriate); Welcome the employee back. Show the employee that managers are concerned and interested in their welfare. Confirm with the employee the reason for absence. Inform them what actions had to be taken to cover their absence (i.e. who covered the work, and whether any of the work was disrupted). Update the employee on any work developments. Inform the employee that there is help and support available if required and discuss any particular help they feel they need. Establish whether or not there are any underlying problems at work or at home, which are adversely impinging upon their attendance. Negotiate the confidentiality of this part of the conversation. Establish whether there is an issue with drug or alcohol abuse. Emphasise that all absence is closely, consistently and fairly monitored. Review the sickness record with the returning employee and discuss any trends or possibility of future health problems. Conduct risk assessment with respect to returning to full duties. The content and the length of the discussion will vary with the nature and frequency of the sickness. It is important to ask direct questions: How do you feel about returning? Do you feel you can be fully effective at present? Are there any aspects of your work that worry you? Page 4 of 5

5 As a result of the discussion, other issues may be identified and there will be a clearer idea of the support and advice which may be necessary. After the discussion: Place a brief summary of the discussion in the staff member s personal file. Consider whether a medical report may be required. If appropriate, decide whether to record the salient points in a letter to the returning employee. Matters that should be dealt with under a disciplinary procedure include: Where an employee fails to comply with the sickness notification or certification procedures. Where an employee abuses the setting s rules on sickness absence. If, after an investigation, the setting forms the belief that the employee has falsely claimed sick pay, and that the self-certified claims of sickness were untrue. Page 5 of 5

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