Disciplinary Procedure

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1 Disciplinary Procedure 1. Scope and purpose 1.1 This procedure applies to all members of staff other than holders of senior posts as defined in Appendix The purposes of this procedure are to: Ensure consistent and fair treatment for all in relation to disciplinary action taken in response to allegations of unacceptable conduct or performance; and Help and encourage employees to understand, achieve and maintain acceptable standards of conduct, attendance and work performance 1.3. The aim of this procedure is to bring about improvements in work and conduct. It is not simply a mechanism to dismiss employees, although in some cases this may be an outcome of the procedure. A separate procedure will be used to address issues of professional capability and competence. 2. Delegation of powers 2.1 The Articles of Government of the college confer upon the Corporation and the Principal certain powers and duties in respect of the termination of employment of members of staff. The Articles also provide for delegation of such powers and obligations. This disciplinary procedure has been expressly adopted by the Governing Board of the Corporation which has delegated its powers and duties in respect of appeals to the Principal. The Principal has delegated functions in respect of dismissals to those persons listed at Appendix 3. General principles 3.1 The purpose of this document is to set out the College s current procedure and rules for the handling of disciplinary matters. It does not confer any contractual rights. 3.2 Many potential disciplinary issues can be resolved informally. Line manager s can choose to deal with minor instances of misconduct or initial unsatisfactory levels of performance informally, by way of counselling, guidance or instruction or by informally cautioning the employee. This does not form part of the College s formal disciplinary procedure. If a problem continues or a manager judges it to be sufficiently serious, this procedure will apply. 3.3 The College will not dismiss any employee for a first offence, unless the offence amounts to gross misconduct (see section 4 on gross misconduct) in which case the employee may be dismissed without notice or pay in lieu.

2 3.4 The College will not take any formal disciplinary action under this procedure without, Advising the employee, in writing, of the nature of the complaint made against them and possible outcomes of the disciplinary hearing. Carrying out a prompt and full investigation. Having investigated the matter, the employee will be either advised that no further action will be taken, or that the disciplinary procedure will be instigated; Inviting the employee to attend a disciplinary hearing at which they will be given the opportunity to state their case before any decision is made; Giving the employee at least 5 working days notice of such a hearing along with written copies of evidence, where appropriate, to allow the employee, together with any permitted representative a reasonable opportunity to consider his or her response to that information; 3.5 Employees have the right to appeal against any formal action taken against them under the procedure. 3.6 The procedure may be implemented at any stage if the employee s alleged misconduct or disciplinary record taken as a whole warrants this. 3.7 Depending on the circumstances, it may be appropriate to suspend the employee from work on full pay to enable the investigation to take place. Any decision to suspend an employee will be carried out in accordance with Section 6 below. Suspension on full pay does not amount to a disciplinary sanction. 3.8 The College has other policies which are relevant to disciplinary matters, including the Harassment and Bullying Policy, the Health and Safety policy and Absence management policy. This procedure should be read as incorporating provisions relating to discipline in any other College policies. 3.9 The College will keep records of any action taken under these disciplinary procedures and these will be treated as confidential Although normal disciplinary standards will apply to their conduct as employees, no sanction will be imposed on a trade union official without the matter first being discussed with a senior or full time official of the trade union. 4. Gross Misconduct 4.1 The following are examples of conduct falling within the definition of gross misconduct and which entitle the College to dismiss without notice or payment in lieu: Refusal to carry out duties or reasonable instructions or to comply with College procedures Serious negligence / incompetence that could or does result in unacceptable loss, damage or injury Fighting, assault or threatening or bullying behaviour

3 Theft, fraud, falsification of College records or any dishonesty involving the College, its employees, students, visitors or attempts to commit such offences Deliberate or reckless damage to the property of the College, its employees, students or visitors Being unfit to work through alcohol or illegal drugs Unauthorised disclosure of confidential information Gross insolence Bribery or corruption Deliberate violation of the College rules and procedure concerning health and safety at work Serious misuse of computer, or internet facilities including use of the internet or to access pornographic, obscene or offensive material Bringing the College into serious disrepute A serious breach of confidence A criminal offence, which may (whether it is committed during or outside the employee s hours of work for the College) adversely affect the College s reputation, the employee s suitability for the type of work he or she is employed by the College to perform or his or her acceptability to other employees or to students. 4.2 The above list is not exhaustive; it illustrates the type of conduct that normally merits dismissal for a first offence. Other types of offence, such as harassment, deliberate unlawful discrimination or computer misuse, may be treated as gross misconduct, depending on the seriousness of the particular facts. 4.3 If the College is satisfied, following an investigation and a disciplinary hearing that the employee has committed gross misconduct, The College will normally dismiss the employee without notice or pay in lieu of notice. In some circumstances, demotion or suspension without pay may be used as alternative sanctions. 5. Other misconduct 5.1 In other cases falling within the remit of this procedure, there will be no dismissal for a first offence. Instead the College may issue a formal warning to the employee which may be a Level 1, Level 2 or Final warning as appropriate. 6. Suspension pending disciplinary hearing 1. An employee may, be suspended on full pay: i) whilst an investigation is made into matters of a serious nature where the possibility of dismissal may arise; or ii) where there are grounds for doubt as to the suitability of the employee to continue working in his/her present position; or iii) pending criminal investigations or proceedings The decision to suspend an employee from duty shall be made by the Deputy Principal who will:

4 i) interview the employee and confirm the reason for the suspension; ii) inform the employee in writing of the reasons for the suspension, within five working days The Deputy Principal may delegate his / her authority to suspend an employee to another member of the Senior Management Team in his / her absence or where this is necessary to avoid a delay in the proceedings. 1. There is no right of appeal against this form of suspension, except in the circumstances described below. An employee who is suspended from duty shall, throughout the period of the suspension, continue to be entitled to his/her full pay and shall suffer no loss of status. 6.3 An employee who has been under suspension pending investigation for three weeks or more may appeal against the suspension. Notice of such appeal shall be given in writing by the employee to the HR manager and the appeal shall be heard as soon as practicable, by the Principal. A suspension against which an appeal by an employee is made, shall continue to operate pending the determination of the appeal. 6.4Where an appeal against suspension is made the employee shall be given at least five working days notice of the date, time and place fixed for the hearing, unless an earlier date has been mutually agreed. At the hearing, the employee may be accompanied by a work colleague of his or his/her choice, or a trade union representative. 6.5 Following the hearing of an appeal against suspension, the Principal may either confirm the suspension or lift the suspension. The decision and the reason for the same shall be confirmed in writing to the employee within five working days of the hearing of the appeal. 7. Conduct of meetings under the disciplinary procedure, including appeals. 7.1 All disciplinary meetings, including appeals, will be held at a reasonable time and place. An employee who has been invited to attend a disciplinary meeting must take all reasonable steps to attend the meeting. If an employee fails to attend a meeting through circumstances outside their control and unforeseeable at the time the meeting was arranged, then the College will arrange another meeting. If the employee fails to attend the rearranged hearing, or the employee is unwilling to attend a disciplinary meeting without good cause the College may choose to hold the meeting and may make a decision in their absence based on the evidence available. 7.2 If the employees chosen representative cannot attend the meeting at the time proposed by the employer, the employee must propose an alternative date which falls within a 5 working day period of the date originally proposed. If that proposed

5 date is reasonable, the employer must then invite all the parties to attend at this new time. 7.3 In any disciplinary proceedings, including appeals, an employee has the statutory right to be accompanied by a fellow worker or trade union representative. A disciplinary hearing is defined as; i) the administration of a formal warning ii) the taking of some other action in respect of a worker by his employer iii) the confirmation of a warning issued or some other action taken. The definition includes the right for witnesses to be accompanied. The companion may address the hearing to put the employee s case, sum up his or her case or respond on the employee s behalf to any view expressed at the hearing. He or she may also confer with the employee during the hearing, but does not have the right to answer questions on his or her behalf, address the hearing if the employee does not wish it or prevent anyone, including the employer explaining their case. 7.4 The appropriate manager (see below) together with a member of the HR team will conduct meetings. Notes of the meeting will be taken by the HR representative. At the meeting, the College will explain the role of all those attending on its behalf. The College will then explain its case against the employee and will give the employee the opportunity to respond in full. Both the College and the employee will be given the opportunity to call any witnesses (where appropriate) or present any witness statements, and be given the opportunity to raise any questions about information provided by witnesses. At appeal meetings, the employee will present his or her reasons for appealing the decision and the College will consider these. 7.5 If matters come to light during a disciplinary hearing which require further investigation, the College may at it s discretion, adjourn any disciplinary meeting to enable further investigation to be carried out. 8. Possible outcomes of a disciplinary hearing 8.1 Level 1 (Oral) Warning The College may issue a level 1 warning if the employee s conduct or performance does not meet the college s standards. A level 1 warning will normally be issued by the employee s immediate line manager. Where, at the conclusion of the disciplinary hearing, the manager decides to issue such a warning, he or she will inform the employee of the following: The reason for the warning; That it is the first stage of the College s disciplinary procedure; The action or improvement (if any) which he or she requires of the employee;

6 The timescale for implementing any such action; The consequences for the employee of not implementing required action or of further misconduct; When the warning will cease to have effect, subject to satisfactory conduct. This will normally be after 12 months but a longer period may be stated in exceptional cases; The right of appeal All of these matters will be confirmed in writing to the employee. A copy of the letter will be placed on the employee s HR file. 8.2 Level 2 (Written) warning The College may issue a level 2 warning if; The required improvement is not achieved within any timescales stated in the first warning; or Further misconduct takes place during the currency of a level 1 warning, whether or not involving a repetition of the conduct which was the subject of the first warning: or The seriousness of the misconduct merits it, regardless of whether a level 1 warning has already been issued. A level 2 warning may be issued by the relevant senior manager. Where, at a conclusion of the disciplinary meeting, the Manager decides to issue a level 2 warning he or she will inform the employee of the following: The reason for the warning, including any prior warnings taken into account; That it is the second stage of the College s disciplinary procedure; The action or improvement (if any) which he or she requires of the employee; The timescale for implementing any such action; The consequences for the employee of not implementing required action or of further misconduct, which could be a final warning; When the warning will cease to have effect, subject to satisfactory conduct. This will normally be after 18 months but a longer period may be stated in exceptional cases; The right of appeal All of these matters will be confirmed in writing to the employee. A copy of the letter will be placed on the employee s HR file. 8.3 Level 3 (Final) warning The College may issue a final warning if; the required improvement is not achieved within any timescale stated in a second warning; or

7 further misconduct takes place during the currency of a level 2 warning, whether or not involving a repetition of conduct which was the subject of a previous warning; or the seriousness of the misconduct merits it, regardless of whether it has issued any previous warnings. A level 3 warning may be issued by a member of the senior management team, normally this manager will have had no previous involvement in the case. As with level 1 and level 2 warnings, where, at a conclusion of the disciplinary meeting, the Manager decides to issue a level 3 warning he or she will inform the employee of the following: The reason for the final warning; The action or improvement (if any) which he or she requires of the employee; The timescale for implementing any such action; The fact that this is a final warning and that the next stage of the procedure will be dismissal: When the warning will cease to have effect, subject to satisfactory conduct. This will normally be after 24 months; The right of appeal All of these matters will be confirmed in writing to the employee. A copy of the letter will be placed on the employee s HR file. 9. Dismissal 9.1 The College may dismiss an employee where: the required improvement is not achieved within any timescale stated in a final warning; or further misconduct takes place during the currency of a final warning whether or not involving a repetition of conduct which was the subject of a previous warning; or it is reasonably believed that he or she has committed an act of gross misconduct. 9.2 Unless dismissal is for gross misconduct, the employee will be dismissed with notice. 9.3 Only the Principal (or a nominated deputy) may dismiss an employee. An employee will only be dismissed after he or she has received a written invitation to a disciplinary hearing and the disciplinary hearing has been held. Where the Principal determines to dismiss the employee, he or she will state the reason, the date on which the dismissal takes effect and inform the employee of his or her right to appeal as soon as possible after the end of the disciplinary meeting, or if not, as soon as reasonably practicable. These matters will be confirmed in writing. A copy of the letter will be placed on the employee s HR file. 9.4 In exceptional circumstances, the College may seek the employee's agreement to

8 demotion or suspension without pay or other penalty as an alternative to dismissal. Where it is deemed appropriate, a final warning may also be issued or continued in force. 10. Appeals 10.1 Any employee who is dissatisfied with a disciplinary decision taken in respect of him or her may appeal against that decision. Appeals should be in writing, setting out the reasons for the appeal, and should be delivered to HR Manager within 5 working days of the disciplinary decision. The College will then invite the employee to an appeal meeting which will take place without reasonable delay and normally within 10 working days. The employee will be given at least 5 working days notice of such a meeting giving the employee, together with any permitted representative a reasonable opportunity to consider his or her appeal Where an employee has been dismissed, the appeal will be heard by the Principal. In other cases, a more senior manager than made the original disciplinary decision will normally hear the appeal At the appeal hearing, the employee will be given an opportunity to state his or her case and comment on new evidence which comes to light at the hearing and will be entitled to be accompanied by a work colleague of his or her choice, or a trade union representative. At the appeal, the disciplinary penalty imposed will be reviewed, but it cannot be increased In the case of appeal against a dismissal upon notice, the dismissal shall not take effect, and the notice period shall not begin to run, until the appeal has been determined. Pending hearing of the appeal the employee will be required not to attend at the College nor to carry out any duties The decision on the appeal will be communicated to the employee in writing within 3 working days of the hearing. This decision is final. 11. Alternative modes of disciplinary action 11.1 As an alternative to issuing warnings at Stage 2 or 3 of the procedure the following options may be considered:

9 Increments may be withheld where disciplinary warnings have produced no improvement in behaviour or work performance. If an increment is withheld because of unsatisfactory service and the service subsequently improves to an acceptable standard, the increment may be paid with effect from the date of the improvement. Demotion to a lower graded post, subject to the availability of a suitable post. Suspension without pay, as a form of punishment for a specified period, depending on the nature of the offence. The period will not exceed six weeks. Such sanctions will only be implemented by the Deputy Principal. Appeals against any of the above forms of disciplinary action will be dealt with under the appeals procedure outlined in Section Review arrangements 12.1 The Corporation reserves the right to review the procedure and will consult with the recognised trade unions on any proposed amendments. Update April 2009 LH /AHS Appendix 1 Holders of Senior posts The Articles of Government of the College provide that Senior post means the post of Principal and other such senior posts as the Corporation may determine. The Corporation has determined that the following posts are senior posts for this purpose: The Deputy Principal

10 Vice Principals (x3) Delegation of Powers The Principal has delegated powers in respect of dismissals to the holders of the following posts: The Deputy Principal

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