Why Following a Disciplinary Procedure Is So Important

Written by Leah Waller
Senior Employment Consultant Solicitor

Not following a disciplinary procedure correctly can leave an employer open to claims for unfair dismissal and so, although working through a disciplinary procedure may seem time-consuming and arduous, the consequences of not following the procedure (and giving rise to a valid claim for unfair dismissal) can be much more costly.

disciplinary procedure

So, what should an employer do to avoid claims for unfair dismissal?

Every employer should ensure that their disciplinary procedure is written down and available to all employees, whether this be as part of their Induction Pack, a schedule to their Employment Contract, as part of the Staff Handbook, on the company Intranet or otherwise. It is important that the disciplinary procedure, not only sets out the procedure for dealing with disciplinary matters but also the types of conduct and/or behaviour that could trigger the disciplinary procedure being conducted and the potential outcomes.

Employers should always consider the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures BEFORE conducting any disciplinary procedure and ensure that they are familiar with their obligations. This is extremely important because, if the employee does bring a claim against them, the Tribunal Judge will take the employer’s adherence to the ACAS Code of Practice into consideration. If the Tribunal Judge finds that the employer has failed to follow the Code of Practice then they can increase the employee’s award by up to 25% – this can have a huge impact on the employer!

Some of the basic steps that should be included in any employer’s disciplinary procedure are:

•  notify the employee, in writing, of

  • the date, time and location of the meeting;
  • the reason for the disciplinary meeting and allegations being made against them;
  • the evidence that the employer will be using at the meeting (and give copies of such evidence to the employee for consideration);
  • their right to bring a companion to the disciplinary meeting (a Trade Union representative or a colleague); and
  • the potential outcomes of the meeting (including dismissal).

•  consideration as to whether the employee will require any reasonable adjustments to accommodate any disabilities;

•  making sure that sufficient time is allowed to the employee, between notification of the disciplinary meeting and the disciplinary meeting itself, to consider all of the information that has been provided to them including the allegations and evidence against them and give them the opportunity to adequately prepare for the meeting.

Employers should keep in mind what an employee needs to prove in order to be successful in an unfair dismissal claim

To be successful in a claim for unfair dismissal an employee must show:

•  that they were an employee with at least two years’ service;

•  that they have been dismissed;

•  that the reason for the dismissal was not within one of the FIVE lawful reasons for dismissal

  • capability
  • redundancy
  • conduct
  • breach of statutory duty
  • some other substantial reason

•  if the reason for the dismissal WAS within one of the five lawful reason listed above…the dismissal could still be successful if the employer acted UNREASONABLY in dismissing them or in the circumstances surrounding the dismissal.

Therefore, if an employee is dismissed following a disciplinary procedure, they may well be successful in a claim for unfair dismissal if they are able to evidence that:

•  there was no lawful reason for their dismissal;


•  the employer failed to correct the disciplinary procedure correctly.

As an employer, conducting a fair and thorough disciplinary procedure, in accordance with the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures and the employer’s own disciplinary procedure, is extremely important (not to mention cost-effective!).

A fair and transparent disciplinary procedure will make is simple for the employer to follow and ensure that the employee is aware of the procedure, possible outcomes and reduce the risk of claims against the employer.

If there is anything you require assistance with, our Employment Department at Greystone Solicitors offer a FREE initial consultation and are more than happy to help. 
Call us on 01582 343453 or email on Info@GreystoneSolicitors.co.uk

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