1 SECTION C Part 4 Disciplinary Procedures Hear Us is a Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered in England No Registered office Orchard House, 15a Purley Road, South Croydon, CR2 6EZ
2 DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES The Employment Act 2002 has brought into force from October 2004 new statutory dismissal and disciplinary procedures (DDPs) which have become minimum procedures that must be followed by all employers. Failure to do so will constitute automatically unfair dismissal for those employees with one or more years of continuous service. Further information appears in the Statutory Dispute Resolution Procedures Document However, you are entitled to adopt more detailed procedures as provided in this document, so long as these include the minimum statutory requirements. This has been done in the model procedures below. A more detailed procedure does not need to be part of the contract of employment which makes it easier to change over time according to changing needs. However, it must continue to include the minimum provisions in the statutory procedures. The Act abolishes the current exemption for employers who employ fewer than 20 people from the obligation to provide their employees with written disciplinary rules and procedures. Note: All organisations, regardless of size, are expected to follow the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. To obtain a copy: download from or or phone The ACAS Code of Practice says: Management is responsible for maintaining and setting standards of performance in an organisation and for ensuring that disciplinary rules and procedures are in place. Employers are legally required to have disciplinary procedures. It is good practice to involve employees (and, where appropriate, their representatives) when making or changing rules and procedures, so that everyone affected by them understands them. When making rules, the aim should be to specify those that are necessary for ensuring a safe and efficient workplace and for maintaining good employment relations. It is unlikely that any set of rules will cover all possible disciplinary issues, but rules normally cover: bad behaviour, such as fighting or drunkenness; unsatisfactory work performance; harassment or victimisation; misuse of company facilities (for example and internet); poor timekeeping; unauthorised absences; and repeated or serious failure to follow instruction Rules should be specific, clear and recorded in writing. They also need to be readily available to employees, for instance on a notice board or, in larger organisations, in a staff handbook or on the intranet. Management should do all they can to ensure that every employee knows and understands the rules, including those employees whose first language is not English or who have trouble reading. This is often best done as part of an induction process.
3 Employers should inform employees of the likely consequences ofbreaking disciplinary rules. In particular, they should list examples of acts of gross misconduct that may warrant summary dismissal. (see below). The Code of Practice goes on to say: When drawing up and applying procedures employers should always: bear in mind the requirements of natural justice. This means that employees should be given the opportunity of a meeting with someone who has not been involved in the matter. They should be informed of the allegations against them, together with the supporting evidence, in advance of the meeting. Employees should be given the opportunity to challenge the allegations before decisions are reached and should be provided with a right of appeal. Natural Justice Good disciplinary procedures should: be put in writing; say to whom they apply; be non-discriminatory; allow for matters to be dealt without undue delay; allow for information to be kept confidential; tell employees what disciplinary action might be taken; say what levels of management have the authority to take disciplinary action; require employees to be informed of the complaints against them and supporting evidence, before a meeting; give employees a chance to have their say before management reaches a decision; provide employees with the right to be accompanied; provide that no employee is dismissed for a first breach of discipline, except in cases of gross misconduct; require management to investigate fully before any disciplinary action is taken; ensure that employees are given an explanation for any sanction; and allow employees to appeal against a decision. Acts which constitute gross misconduct are those resulting in a serious breach of contractual terms and are best decided by organisations in the light of their own particular circumstances. However, examples of gross misconduct might include: theft or fraud; physical violence or bullying; deliberate and serious damage to property; serious misuse of an organisation s property or name; deliberately accessing internet sites containing pornographic, offensive or obscene material; serious insubordination; unlawful discrimination or harassment; bringing the organisation into serious disrepute; serious incapability at work brought on by alcohol or illegal drugs; causing loss, damage or injury through serious negligence; a serious breach of health and safety rules; and a serious breach of confidence. Gross Misconduct The right to be accompanied The Code explains this right as follows: Workers have a statutory right to be accompanied by a
4 fellow worker or trade union official where they are required or invited by their employer to attend certain disciplinary or grievance hearings. They must make a reasonable request to their employer to be accompanied. For the purposes of this right, disciplinary hearings are defined as meetings that could result in: a formal warning being issued to a worker (i.e. a warning that will be placed on the worker s record); the taking of some other disciplinary action (such as suspension without pay, demotion or dismissal) or other action; or the confirmation of a warning or some other disciplinary action (such as an appeal hearing). The right to be accompanied will also apply to any disciplinary meetings held as part of the statutory dismissal and disciplinary procedures. This includes any meetings held after an employee has left employment. Informal discussions or counselling sessions do not attract the right to be accompanied unless they could result in formal warnings or other actions. Meetings to investigate an issue are not disciplinary. If it becomes clear during the course of such a meeting that disciplinary action is called for, the meeting should be ended and a formal hearing arranged at which the worker will have the right to be accompanied. Whether a request for a companion is reasonable will depend on the circumstances of the individual case and, ultimately, it is a matter for the courts and tribunals to decide. However, when workers are choosing a companion, they should bear in mind that it would not be reasonable to insist on being accompanied by a colleague whose presence would prejudice the hearing or who might have a conflict of interest. Nor would it be reasonable for a worker to ask to be accompanied by a colleague from a geographically remote location when someone suitably qualified was available on site. The request to be accompanied does not have to be in writing. The companion may be: a fellow worker (i.e. another of the employer s workers); an official employed by a trade union, or a lay trade union official, as long as they have been reasonably certified in writing by their union as having experience of, or having received training in, acting as a worker s companion at disciplinary or grievance hearings. Certification may take the form of a card or letter. The companion Some workers may, however, have additional contractual rights to be accompanied by persons other than those listed above (for instance a partner, spouse or legal representative). If workers are disabled, employers should consider whether it might be reasonable to allow them to be accompanied because of their disability. It is recommended that you obtain a full copy of the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. To obtain a copy: download from or or phone
5 Purpose and Scope Model Disciplinary Procedure The purpose of the Association s Disciplinary Procedure is to help and encourage all employees and workers to achieve and maintain required standards of conduct, job performance and good discipline. This procedure applies to all staff except for those in their probation period. It sets out to enable the individual whose performance and/or conduct has failed to reach the required standard, to make the necessary improvement through guided instruction. The aim is to ensure that the Association s interests are safe-guarded while staff are treated fairly and equitably, with an emphasis on correction rather than punishment. The purpose of this procedure is to clarify the rights and responsibilities of management and workers in respect of disciplinary action. Its objective is to provide a fair and consistent means by which disciplinary rules are observed and standards of work performance and conduct are maintained. It provides a method for dealing with alleged breaches of organisational policies, rules and procedures; cases of alleged misconduct; or persistent poor performance. It ensures that disciplinary action, if taken, is appropriate to the circumstances. Principles Supervisors and manager have a responsibility to ensure that the staff for which they are responsible are aware of general and specific rules, standards and procedures laid down for the regulation of work and conduct. Workers are required to familiarise themselves with these standards and procedures and to co-operate with their managers to ensure that they are adhered to. In cases of minor misconduct or unacceptable performance or behaviour, managers should exhaust all other means of achieving the required standards before formal disciplinary action is taken. This will include setting clearly defined objectives and standards, monitoring them over a reasonable time period and providing additional coaching or training. In some cases this may also include reference to other appropriate sources of counselling and assistance. No disciplinary action will be taken until a case has been thoroughly investigated. When commencing an investigation into an allegation of misconduct there shall be no assumption that disciplinary action will automatically follow. At every stage of the procedure, workers will be advised of the nature of the complaint against them and will be given the opportunity to state their case before any decision is made. The line manager investigating a case must decide if further action should follow and assess the level at which the disciplinary hearing should be held. S/he must ensure that it is conducted by a management representative (whether line manager, director, chair, MC panel) authorised to take appropriate disciplinary action if the allegation is substantiated. A table showing the levels of management authorised to impose sanctions appears in section 15. Disciplinary action will only take place where it is decided, following a disciplinary hearing, that misconduct had occurred and disciplinary action is appropriate.
6 Workers have the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague of their choice at all stages of this procedure, including an investigatory, disciplinary, review or appeal hearing. (Where the organisation employs only one worker, s/he is entitled to be accompanied by a union representative or friend). Workers will not be dismissed for a first breach of discipline, except in the case of gross misconduct, when the penalty will be dismissal without notice and with or without payment in lieu of notice. Note: The paragraph above must be mirrored in the employment contract. Without an explicit term in the contract you cannot dismiss an employee in this way. The contract clause for Termination of Employment should include, for example: In the case of gross misconduct you may be dismissed without notice and without pay in lieu of notice (See clause 19.4 in model contract). The procedure may be implemented at any stage if the alleged misconduct warrants such action. Workers have the right to appeal against any disciplinary penalty imposed to an appeals committee (see Section 17 below). At all stages of the disciplinary procedure both manager and the individual concerned must ensure the confidentiality of events and discussions. This will not preclude sharing such confidence when seeking advice. Any discussions with witnesses should be confined to the specific areas on which the witnesses may have information. Any unreasonable breach of confidence may itself be treated as a disciplinary case of misconduct. All formal letters sent to a worker under the terms of this procedure shall either be handed to her/him personally or sent by Recorded Delivery. Copies of all correspondence shall be sent to his/her representative unless indicated otherwise by the worker. Recorded and written warnings will cease to be live following the specified period of satisfactory conduct or performance and will be disregarded for future disciplinary purposes. Procedure Where discussion, coaching, training or other informal action fails to achieve the required improvement in performance or behaviour, or where the matter is more serious, the following procedure shall be undertaken: The relevant supervisor or line manager will identify and clarify the issue by establishing the essence of the problem. The matter must be investigated in a systematic and thorough manner by gathering information promptly, establishing relevant facts and taking into account statements of witnesses if appropriate. The worker will be expected to attend any investigatory hearing called. S/he may be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague. The meeting will be recorded and a written statement taken. In serious cases, (the director or Chair) will have the power to suspend the worker, with full pay, pending investigation of the allegations. Suspension in these circumstances does not constitute
7 disciplinary action. (See note in section 7 below) Following the investigation the worker should, without unavoidable delay, be given a written statement of the allegation and advised of the intention to hold a disciplinary hearing. This will state her/his rights under this procedure, including the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague. At the same time the worker will be provided with copies of all documentation and supporting evidence to be presented at the hearing. The worker will be given time to prepare her/his case and the disciplinary hearing will normally be held not earlier than the fifth and not later than the tenth working day following notification. The disciplinary hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the procedure described in section 16 below. If following the disciplinary hearing it is decided to institute disciplinary action, one of the sanctions below may be applied. Disciplinary Sanctions The manager applying a disciplinary sanction should also give the employee specific guidance to encourage improvement. Any recorded disciplinary sanction must contain: details of actions to be taken to enable the worker to achieve improvement; a set timescale within which improvement is expected to take place; and a plan for review to monitor and discuss progress with the worker. Actions may involve training, counselling or some other form of assistance that the supervisor/line manager/others will provide. Depending on the circumstances, the following range of disciplinary sanctions may be applied: Stage 1 - Oral Warning If conduct or performance does not meet acceptable standards the worker will normally be given a formal oral warning by his/her supervisor/line manager. S/he will be advised of the reason for the warning, that it is the first stage of the disciplinary procedure and of their right of appeal. A brief note of the oral warning detailing the complaint; the improvement required; the set timescale for improvement; and dates for review will be kept in the worker s personal file but will be disregarded for disciplinary purposes after 6 months. Stage 2 - Written Warning If performance is still unsatisfactory or the misconduct is a serious one, or if a further misconduct occurs, the worker will be given a written warning. This will give details of the complaint; the improvement required; the set timescale for improvement; and dates for review. It will warn that action under Stage 3 will be considered if there is no satisfactory improvement and will advise of the right of appeal. A copy of this written warning will be kept in the worker s personal file but will be disregarded for disciplinary purposes after 12 months. Stage 3 - Final Warning If there is still a failure to improve conduct or performance, or if the misconduct is sufficiently serious to warrant only one written warning but insufficiently serious to justify dismissal (in effect both first and final written warnings), a final written warning shall normally be given. This will detail the complaint and the steps to be taken as above, will warn that dismissal may result if there is no satisfactory improvement and will advise of the right of appeal. A copy of this final written warning will be kept on file but will be disregarded for disciplinary purposes after 12 months (in exceptional cases duration may be longer).
8 Stage 4 - Dismissal If conduct or performance is still unsatisfactory and the worker fails to reach the prescribed standards, or if the offence constitutes gross misconduct, dismissal will normally result. The worker will be provided as soon as reasonably practicable with written reasons for dismissal, the date on which his/her employment will terminate and be advised of the right of appeal. (Employees with one year s continuous service or more have the right, on request, to have a written statement of particulars of reasons for dismissal.) Stage 4 - Action Short of Dismissal In cases of a serious nature where dismissal is considered but it is decided to impose disciplinary action other than dismissal - such as temporary or permanent disciplinary transfer to alternative job or location, temporary or permanent disciplinary demotion - it may also be decided to retain a final warning permanently on the worker s personal file and the worker will be advised that any recurrence will lead to dismissal. Where temporary or permanent disciplinary transfer is imposed, the worker will not suffer any disadvantage which is in breach of her/his terms and conditions of employment as to make the Association liable to a constructive dismissal claim. Disciplinary demotion will only be implemented with the worker s written agreement obtained prior to such action taking place. Note: You can include Action Short of Dismissal only if the contract of employment contains an explicit term covering such a provision or if the disciplinary procedure forms part of the contract. But be aware that even in such circumstances an employee can claim constructive dismissal if it was not appropriate to impose such a penalty. Furthermore, for most small voluntary organisations this provision may not be a realistic option and therefore should not be included. Disciplinary Offences Guideline Misconduct is defined as failure in personal conduct, persistent poor performance or deliberate infringement of policies, rules and procedures. In order that a consistent approach is made in treatment of disciplinary cases, a suggested list of possible disciplinary offences follows. The list is provided as a guideline. The decision to take disciplinary action or the sanction imposed may vary according to the exact circumstances of the case. Reasons for disciplinary action may include but are not limited to: dishonesty; breach of confidentiality; negligent use, misuse or unauthorised use of the Authority s property, including equipment, materials and information; health and safety issues, for example: threatened physical assault; abusive behaviour, offensive or obscene language or gestures directed at employees; members of the Management Committee; members of the public;
9 deliberate or reckless damage to the Association s property; failure to observe established health, fire and safety rules and to report accidents or injuries whilst on duty; smoking in any other than designated areas; creating or contributing to unsanitary conditions; entering or leaving the Association s property except by designated entrances and exits; performance related issues, for example: serious neglect of duty which undermines the organisation; failure over a period of time to perform work to satisfactory standards; (with reference to the Association s Alcohol/Drug Abuse policy), failure to carry out duties effectively while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, other than medically prescribed; refusal to carry out a reasonable order of a manager; misuse of the individual s employed position towards a fellow employee or a member of the public, including oppressive or abusive conduct; bullying, harassment or victimisation; infringement of terms and conditions of service, for example; persistent lateness; absence from duty without permission of supervisor, line manager (director or Chair); excessive sickness absences with no appropriate certificates or authorisation; failure to comply with policies, procedures and regulations as laid down by the Association from time to time; engaging in or knowledge of activities on or off the premises which could be considered a discredit to the Association or its employees; undertaking additional employment which would counter the interests of the Association or would conflict with the employee s own position; making unauthorised statements to the press or news media relating to the Association s business; making a false statement of any kind within the realms of the Association s employment, knowing it to be false or having reckless regard as to either the validity or falseness of the statement. Gross Misconduct Gross misconduct is defined as misconduct serious enough to destroy the employment contract between the Association and the employee/worker which makes further working relationship and trust impossible. Gross misconduct is normally restricted to serious offences. The principal reasons for summary dismissal could include but are not limited to: criminal offence which affects the individual s ability to carry out his/her job; physical assault by an employee on any other person; theft, misappropriation or unlawful destruction of property: the Association s, employees or others ; serious infringement of safety rules or negligence which causes unacceptable loss, damage or injury; supplying security access codes to any unauthorised person; unauthorised disclosure of information or misuse of trust of a serious nature; making malicious or unfounded allegations of a serious nature; deliberate falsification of any documents or claims, including time sheets, overtime or expense forms; misconduct at work or away from work of such a serious nature as to bring into disrepute either the employee s position or the organisation;
10 sexual/racial discrimination; harassment of a serious nature; persistent alcohol or drug abuse; engaging in unauthorised employment during hours when contracted to work for the Association or during periods of designated leave, for example annual or sick leave, time off for training, etc. failure to disclose unspent criminal conviction(s) or any convictions, whether spent or not, in respect of posts exempt under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1975; providing false information on a job application form. Suspension Note: You can only include this section in your disciplinary procedure if the contract of employment contains a clause allowing suspension. Otherwise you would be acting in breach of contract as it is an implied term of a contract that the employer will provide work. The clause in the contract should read: The Association may suspend you from work on full pay during disciplinary proceedings (See model contract clause 26.2) Suspension is not a disciplinary action and shall be on full pay. It should only take place where the allegation being investigated would, if substantiated, constitute gross misconduct or where it was considered in the best interest of all parties if the worker was not to remain at work. Such suspension will only be imposed after careful consideration and will be reviewed to ensure it is not unnecessarily protracted. Normally the worker will be informed of his/her suspension at an interview with the director (or Chair) and transport to the worker s home will be arranged. S/he is entitled to have a union representative or work colleague present at the meeting. In any case, the director/chair will inform the worker in writing that s/he is to be suspended immediately: stating the nature of the alleged offence, the purpose of suspension, and its anticipated duration. A copy of this letter will be provided to the worker s representative. Suspension in these circumstances should normally be for a period of 28 days or less. However, in exceptional circumstances, the period may be extended. The worker will be informed in writing specifying the duration of the extension and the reasons for it. In cases of alleged gross misconduct suspension may continue until the appeal process, if pursued, has been concluded. Criminal Offence A worker will not be dismissed or otherwise disciplined simply because s/he has been charge with or convicted of a criminal offence. The consideration will be whether the conduct warrants action because of its employment implications. However, where the conduct requires the Association s prompt attention, there will be no need to await the outcome of the prosecution before taking reasonable action. Where the police are called in, they will not be asked to conduct any investigation on the Association s behalf; nor will they be present at any disciplinary hearing or interview. Trade Union Representative
11 No disciplinary action shall be taken against a trade union representative until the circumstances have been discussed with a full-time official of the trade union concerned. Probationary Employees This full procedure does not apply to probationary employees. However in cases of dismissal or gross misconduct, the minimum statutory provisions introduced in October 2004 should be followed. See more below. The supervisor/line-manager of a probationary employee will assess the employee s performance through the probationary assessment process. Lack of capability during the probationary period should not be viewed as a disciplinary offence, although due warnings must be given prior to any final action being taken. The disciplinary procedure can be used as guidance for dealing with such matters. In cases of misconduct, which justify taking disciplinary action, a probationary employee shall not be dismissed, except in the case of gross misconduct, without having received on a previous occasion one recorded warning giving the consequences of further misconduct. The warning should be for a suitable duration, depending on the period of probation to be completed. Where the probationary employee is to be dismissed due to unsatisfactory performance or conduct, or in cases of gross misconduct, the minimum statutory procedures will be followed: the employee will be given a written statement of the reasons for dismissal; a meeting will be held (along the lines of a disciplinary hearing described in this document) and the employee will be entitled to appeal (see section 17). Failure to Attend a Disciplinary Hearing If a worker is unable to, or decides not to take part in any of the meetings under this procedure, s/he must notify the manager responsible for conducting the meeting in writing, specifying the reasons for non-attendance. This must be done 48 hours in advance of the meeting. If sickness prevents a worker from attending, then normal procedures for informing sickness absence apply. If a worker does not attend a disciplinary hearing and does not provide prior written explanation giving reasonable justification of non-attendance, the disciplinary officer will send the worker a recorded delivery letter. The letter will instruct him/her to attend a hearing at a new date which may include an additional charge of failure to attend and inform. If the worker does not attend the disciplinary hearing at this new date and time and does not provide prior written explanation giving reasonable justification for non-attendance, the disciplinary officer will proceed to hold the hearing at the set date inviting the worker s representative to be present. Such a hearing will normally include the additional charge of failure to attend and inform. Appeal A worker may appeal against any formal disciplinary action taken under this procedure to the Association s Appeals Committee. An appeal may be lodged against the decisions of the disciplinary hearing as regard to finding and/or outcome. It may also be lodged against failure to follow this procedure adequately.
12 A worker wishing to appeal against a disciplinary decision, must do so in writing to the Chair within ten working days of receiving written notification of the disciplinary action, stating the reasons for the appeal. Any documents submitted in support of the appeal must be attached. Arrangements for the appeal hearing will be made by the Chair. The appeal shall be conducted in accordance with the procedure detailed in section 17 below. Employment Tribunal Nothing in this procedure shall affect a worker s right to make a complaint to an Employment Tribunal in accordance with relevant employment legislation. It is recommended that before taking such action the worker seeks appropriate legal advice. Disciplinary Proceedings Note: Sometimes issues are complicated if during disciplinary proceedings against an employee, s/he invokes the grievance procedure: If the grievance is raised about the behaviour of the manager handling the case, ACAS s Code of Practice suggests:...if this happens, the employer should consider suspending the disciplinary procedure for a short period while the grievance is dealt with. Depending on the nature of the grievance, the employer may need to consider bringing in another manager to deal with the disciplinary process. If the nature of the grievance is an attempt to undermine or derail the disciplinary process, matters should be dealt with in chronological order. If the grievance is about a separate issue, matters should be dealt with in chronological order, or at the same time but under separate proceedings. Where the organisation faces a similar scenario it is recommended that you seek advice from: your local CVS, PEACe, ACAS s helpline or a legal adviser. Disciplinary Sanctions Table Sanction Informal Action Lowest Level of Management Authorised to Impose Sanction Supervisor/line manager Suspension Director/Chair Extension of Suspension period Director/Chair Oral Warning (recorded) All line managers
13 Written Warning Director/Chair Final Warning; dismissal of probationary employees Director/Chair Dismissal, Action short of dismissal: disciplinary transfer, disciplinary demotion Disciplinary Panel (2-3 members of the MC/Board not previously involved in the case) The Disciplinary Hearing The Disciplinary Officer (as authorised within the structure described in 15 above) will conduct the disciplinary hearing. The worker s line manager who has conducted the investigation will be the Presenting Officer responsible for presenting the case against the employee. (Where the sanction recommended by management is a recorded oral warning, the Disciplinary Officer and Presenting Officer may be one and the same, i.e. the worker s line-manager.) The worker has the right to be accompanied and assisted by a trade union representative or work colleague (or friend). Where possible, a note-taker, who must be uninvolved in the case, will take down a record of the proceedings. Witnesses should not be present throughout the hearing. They should be called in, one by one, to give their evidence and asked to withdraw once they have done so. The Disciplinary Officer (or Chair of the Disciplinary Panel) will open the proceedings with an explanation of the purpose of the hearing and the procedure to be followed, introducing those present. S/he will read aloud the allegations and ask the worker if he/she wishes to take the opportunity to admit or deny them. If the worker admits the allegations, s/he will be asked if they or their representative wish to offer any explanation for the misconduct or to have any mitigating circumstances taken into account. The hearing will then proceed to stage (xv) below. If the worker denies the allegations, the following steps will take place: The Presenting Officer will state the case against the worker in the presence of the worker and his/her representative. The worker or his/her representative shall be given an opportunity to reply to the allegations and ask questions of the Presenting Officer. The Presenting Officer may call witnesses. The worker or his/her representative shall have the opportunity to question any witnesses called by the Presenting Officer. The Disciplinary Officer (or Panel) may ask questions for clarification of the Presenting Officer and any witnesses.
14 The worker or his/her representative shall put the worker s case in the presence of the Presenting Officer. The Presenting Officer shall have the opportunity to ask questions of the worker, his/her representative and of any witnesses called by the worker. The Disciplinary Officer (or Panel) may ask questions for clarification of the worker, his/her representative and any witnesses called by the worker. The Presenting Officer shall have the opportunity to sum up the case against the worker, but may not introduce any new material. The employee or his/her representative shall have the opportunity to sum up the worker s case, but may not introduce any new material. The worker, his/her representative, the Presenting Officer, and note-taker shall withdraw. If recall is necessary both parties are to return regardless of the point giving rise to doubt. The Disciplinary Officer (or Disciplinary Panel) shall consider the case in private: S/he (they) must first decide whether on the balance of probabilities, taking due regard of all the facts, the case against the worker is proven. If the case against the worker is proven, and before imposing a disciplinary penalty s/he (they) must consider: the level of disciplinary penalty indicated by the procedure; any special, mitigating circumstances which might make it appropriate to lessen the penalty; the worker's disciplinary record, general record, age, position and length of service; whether there are any other live warnings; how the Association has dealt with similar cases in the past; whether the proposed penalty is reasonable in view of all the circumstances. (xviii) The Disciplinary Officer (or Chair of the Disciplinary Panel) shall inform the worker of the decision at the conclusion of the deliberations, if practicable. In any case, s/he shall provide the worker with written confirmation of the decision within five working days of the hearing. This will include notifying the worker of his/her right of appeal and the procedure to be followed. If at any time during the proceedings it becomes apparent that there is no case for the worker to answer, an immediate adjournment may be called by the Presenting Officer. The hearing may be adjourned by either side or by the Disciplinary Officer (or Chair of Panel), if it is considered necessary to gather further information or evidence or clarify any issue. The hearing will be reconvened as soon as possible. Appeals Procedure A worker may appeal against any formal disciplinary action taken under this procedure to the Association s Appeals Committee. An appeal may be lodged against the decisions of the disciplinary hearing as regard to finding and/or outcome. It may also be lodged against failure to follow this procedure adequately. Where a probationary employee is dismissed, s/he shall have the right of appeal against this decision.
15 A worker wishing to appeal against a disciplinary decision, must do so in writing to the Chair within ten working days of receiving written notification of the disciplinary action, stating the reasons for the appeal. Any documents submitted in support of the appeal must be attached. Arrangements for the appeal hearing will be made by the Chair who will ensure that a minutetaker is present. The appeal shall be conducted in accordance with the procedure set out below. The Appeals Panel is the Executive (or Management) Committee of the Association, excluding those who were members of the Disciplinary Panel who made the decision which is subject of the appeal, or the Chair where s/he has been involved at an earlier stage of the disciplinary procedure. Three members of the EC/MC will constitute an Appeals Panel, one of whom will be the panel s Chair. The worker may be accompanied by a union representative or a work colleague (or friend) of his/her choice at any appeal hearing. The management representative at the appeal hearing will be the Disciplinary Officer responsible for the decision which is subject of the appeal. Depending on the stage of the disciplinary procedure implemented in the relevant case, this may be the line manager, Director, Chair, or the Chair of the Disciplinary Panel. The appeal will be heard as soon as possible but not later than 20 working days from the date of receiving the employee s request for appeal. The date and time of any appeal hearing shall be agreed between the employee, the union representative/work colleague (or friend), the management representative and the Panel members. The appeals process provides the opportunity for the Appeals Panel to consider any new evidence not previously presented; whether the decision of the disciplinary hearing was reasonable in the circumstances; or whether the disciplinary procedure was followed adequately. Conduct of Appeal Hearings The Chair of the Appeals Panel will conduct the hearing as follows: The Chair of the Panel will open the proceedings with an explanation of the purpose of the hearing and the procedure to be followed, introducing those present. S/he will read aloud the employee s reason for lodging an appeal as submitted in writing to the Chair. The employee and/or his/her representative will put his/her case in the presence of the management representative outlining the grounds for the appeal and the reasons why they feel the original decision was incorrect. The employee or his/her representative shall call any witnesses or refer to any documents as necessary. Witnesses shall be called in turn and for each witness the procedure shall be: (a) the employee or representative question the witness (b) the management representative questions the witness (c) the Appeals Panel question the witness
16 The management representative will ask questions of the employee and/or representative. The Appeal Panel will ask questions of the employee and/or representative. The management representative will put the case for disciplinary action in the presence of the employee and his/her representative calling witnesses and referring to documents, as necessary. Witnesses shall be called in turn and for each witness the procedure shall be as in (ii) above. The employee and/or representative will ask questions of the management representative. The Appeal Panel will ask questions of the management representative. The management representative and the employee and/or his/her representative will sum up their respective cases and then withdraw. The Appeals Panel will consider the case in private. The decision of the Panel shall be notified to the employee verbally at the end of the Hearing in the presence of the management representative and shall be confirmed in writing within five working days of the hearing. The decision of the Appeals Panel shall be final. Records Records will be kept detailing: the nature of any breach of disciplinary rules or unsatisfactory performance; the worker s defence or mitigation; the action taken and the reasons for it; whether an appeal was lodged and its outcome; any subsequent developments; and copies of all correspondence relating to this procedure including recorded oral warnings and written warnings. These records will be kept confidential and retained in accordance with this disciplinary procedure and the Data Protection Act Workers will be entitled to have access to their own records in accordance with the Act. Copies of any hearing records will be given to the worker concerned. PEACe, September 2005 LVSC s Personnel, Employment Advice and Conciliation Service The material in this document does not give a full statement of the law, nor does it reflect changes after September It is intended for guidance only and is not a substitute for professional advice. No responsibility for loss occasioned as a result of any person acting or refraining from acting on the basis of this material can be accepted by the author or by LVSC.
17 DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE Introduction Hear Us takes pride in its service and is committed to preserve best the standards of conduct for all. Principles and Purpose To achieve efficiency, quality of service and good employee volunteer relations. To provide a fair method of dealing with breaches in standards of conduct. To clarify rights and responsibilities of management staff and volunteers. To resolve disciplinary matters at an informal level as quickly as possible. Scope The Disciplinary policy applies to all Hear Us employees and volunteers. The term employee will be used in this document to apply to volunteers as well. Deciding what to do with the complaint When a complaint is received the manager must decide whether the problem (i.e. misconduct) can be addressed informally through advice or counselling or due to its severity, i.e. gross misconduct, it will automatically pass to the formal disciplinary stage detailed overleaf. Informal Stage It is important to try to resolve a breach of discipline informally before recourse to formal proceedings. The best course of action is for the employee to receive to advice or counselling Procedure The discussion will be confidential. Listen to the employee s explanation, there may not be a case to answer, if so tell them. The discussion should be constructive, i.e. focused on how the improvements can be made. Agree on what needs to be improved, and how it can be improved. Agree on how to monitor the necessary improvements i.e. Set a date for a review, and agree on how the changes can be seen to have been made. Make it clear that if the agreed improvements are not met by the due date, then formal action will be taken. Keep written notes of agreed actions and timescales. Formal Disciplinary Procedure Disciplinary Investigation Assemble a disciplinary panel. For cases brought under the disciplinary procedure it is important to ensure that the members of the Steering Group (Trustees) who hear the case have not been directly involved in the case under consideration or in the investigation of it. Gather the relevant evidence.
18 Determine whether there is a case to answer, and decide on a course of action to take. If a formal proceeding is necessary arrange a formal interview with the employee to inform them of the exact nature of the complaint, the disciplinary process involve and the potential disciplinary consequences. Inform the Employee when and where the hearing will take place. Inform the employee of their right to representation or accompaniment by a colleague. The investigation will be completed in ten working days. Format of Disciplinary Hearing The manager hearing the evidence will introduce all parties; explain why they are here at this time, and the format of the hearing. The investigating manager will state the nature of the complaint, introduce supporting evidence and witnesses. The employee will then state their case and: Present evidence. Call witnesses If any new facts emerge : Decide on whether further investigation is required. If it is adjourn, and reconvene when the investigation is completed. Before the panel reaches a decision it must have a clear view about the facts. If they are disputed, decide on the balance of probability what version of the facts is true. Before deciding the nature of the disciplinary penalty consider: Previous, relevant cases and their outcomes Mitigating circumstances. Whether the proposed penalty is reasonable in light of all the circumstances. Decide on penalty. Reconvene the hearing. Clearly inform the individual of the penalty, if one is imposed. Explain their right of appeal, and the relevant process. In the case of a warning explain what improvement is expected, how long the warning may last, and what the consequences of failure to improve will be. See appendix i. Record the action taken. Confirm the decision and necessary action in writing. Monitor the individuals performance, Monitor progress and performance regularly and discuss it with the individual. Appeals Employees and volunteers have the right to appeal that will be considered on one or more of the following grounds: Procedure: procedural irregularities prejudiced the decision. Facts: how the facts do not support the decision, also providing any new evidence. Decision: Appeal must state how the act(s) of misconduct did not justify the level of action taken or that there was misconduct, not gross misconduct. Appeals must be registered in five working days. Appeals will be held in ten working days of registration. Ensure that relevant records are available to the appellant. The appellant can attend part or all of the appeal with a colleague or representative who must not act in a legal capacity.
19 The Appeals panel will consist of two members of the Executive committee who were not involved in the initial proceedings. The result of the appeal and the reasons for the decision will be conveyed to the appellant immediately after the hearing and confirmed in writing within five working days. Their decision will be final. Disciplinary Policy Appendix The following formal stages of disciplinary action can be taken for breaches of conduct or failure to perform clearly defined tasks and commitments. (See appendix ii for Disciplinary rules) Warnings are progressive from first to final except for gross misconduct. Disciplinary action Authority to issue Duration of warning Verbal warning Coordinator 3 months First written warning Coordinator 6 months Final written warning Steering Committee (Trustees) 9 months Dismissal Steering Committee (Trustees) N/A During the term of a disciplinary warning, further misconduct may occur. The Project Coordinator must take into account whether the second case of misconduct is similar or unrelated. Hear Us expects all its employees and volunteers to recognise their obligations to the organisation and to conduct themselves in a proper manner at all times. Hear Us general rules are listed below. They cover misconduct and gross misconduct, but are neither exhaustive nor exclusive. Gross Misconduct Fighting or acts of violence, serious threatening or abusive behaviour towards members of the public or fellow employees or volunteers Criminal offences outside which affect the individuals suitability Serious discrimination (See Equal Opportunities) Incapable of performing duties as a result of the abuse of alcohol and or drugs Serious breaches of Hear Us Confidentiality Policy. Stealing Misconduct Regular lateness Discrimination see Equal Opportunities Inappropriate drinking or drugs use Failure to attend supervision Failure to keep appropriate records Misrepresenting Hear Us
20 Monitoring the Disciplinary process The Coordinator will provide statistics to the Steering Committee (Trustees) including: The number of disciplinary. The nature of each disciplinary. The total number of outstanding disciplinary actions.
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