Having a discipline procedure is an absolutely fundamental requirement for any employer whether an established enterprise of any size, or a small business. I’ve seen employers paying the penalty at tribunal for having dismissed an employee for perpetual lateness and absence simply because they had no clear and documented procedure for dealing with terminations. Of course, it wasn’t the “not having a procedure” that was the “offence”. It was the fact that the absence of such (any) procedure meant how could the method that was followed , have been fair if was, in effect, made up on the spot. Certainly, the employee could not have been aware of the consquences of his lethargy, because none existed! You may find this .gov link informative read more
Handling grievances at work
It’s always best to try to address workplace grievances informally and at as early a stage as possible. However, if a particular grievance can’t be resolved in this way, then having a formal procedure in place can help avoid later tribunal action.
Grievances are concerns, problems or complaints raised by a member of staff. They may arise over issues such as terms and conditions of employment, health and safety, relations with colleagues or management, organisational change or discrimination.
Grievances are best dealt with at an early stage, informally, with the immediate line manager. This gives everyone involved a chance to resolve matters effectively before they escalate. However, it is not always possible to resolve matters on an informal basis, and this is when it becomes important to have a formal procedure for handling grievances. This formal procedure should always be the last resort when other attempts have failed, and not the first option.
Any formal grievance procedure should, as a first step, require the employee in question to submit a letter to their employer setting out the details of the grievance. They should then be invited to a meeting to discuss the issue, and be entitled to appeal the employer’s decision.
Employers are not bound to follow a particular legal process when handling grievances at work. However, the key principles which employers should observe are set out in the Code of Practice 1 – Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. While failing to follow the Code won’t automatically make an employer liable for tribunal action, a tribunal will nevertheless take this failure into account when making a judgment.
My Comment: As always, I’m grateful to ACAS for a very helpful piece on this topic, I always advise my clients to observe the ACAS cop when dealing with employees. Whilst not actually legislation per se, by following ACAS guide lines you will have complied with reasonable procedures, and this will stand you in good stead.
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