A disciplinary procedure is defined as a step-by-step process that deals with the perceived misconduct of an employee. It includes written rules and regulations that the organization commits itself to follow if the employee needs to be reprimanded, warned or dismissed
What is disciplinary procedure?
The disciplinary procedure is a vital tool for the management, and if implemented systematically, it results in an improved and positive relationship between the management and the employees. This is a comprehensive procedure that ensures every employee working in the firm follow the set guidelines and procedures about the code of conduct in their daily operations.
The process is uniform by nature and categorically states how to behave in the workplace and what are the penalties that will be envied on the employees for not following them. The range is extensive and depends on the severity of the transgression.
This Process is meant for every employee in an organization. The firm pays special attention to implementing a fair process because it is aware of the fact that failure to follow a uniform and appropriate disciplinary procedure can result in legal penalties.
Types of Disciplinary procedures
1. Formal disciplinary procedure
The legal disciplinary procedure is handled formally and is codified in the employment contract or company handbook. The case is closely followed by the top brass and especially by the employer because any disagreement over handling can lead to an employment tribunal.
In case the transgression is considered very severe, then the employee will be suspended from the work until the time the case is fully heard.
2. Informal disciplinary procedure
This procedure is discreetly handled by the manager and are not codified because the transgression is not so severe
The advantages of having a disciplinary procedure are as follows-
- The procedure categorically encourages uniform behavior in the workplace, and when the employee is treated fairly, it increases his self-confidence and morale. This leads to an increase in his efficiency and productivity levels.
- The procedure ensures that there is minimized recruitment time, employee turnover and cost.
- The procedure reduces absenteeism from the workplace
- Employees consider their employers proactive and fair and are thus dedicated and loyal
The disadvantages of disciplinary procedures are as follows-
- One of the significant limitations or disadvantages is that it is inflexible by nature.
6 Steps of Disciplinary Procedure
Take the following steps during a disciplinary procedure
1) Understand your options
An employer or a supervisor in case of the disciplinary procedure is first going to take the informal route and try to find the easiest and quickest solution by
- Talking with the employee privately
- Listening attentively to his point of view
- Agreeing on improvements
- If it is a performance or capability issue then offering training, support, and encouragement to make changes and improve
- Taking the time to know whether it is a case of misconduct or action or behavior that breaks the existing rules in the workplace through insubordination, harassment, AWOL or bullying
- Understand whether the misconduct happened outside the workplace and whether it can cause severe repercussions for the business
- If the malpractice is very strict, for example, physical violence, fraud, gross negligence or serious insubordination.
2) Follow a fair procedure
If the management or the employer feels the need for a disciplinary procedure, then it becomes imperative to follow a fair process. This is not just for the employer but for the employee as well as the business they both are a part of.
- At this point, it is better to take into account the Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. Although the company has its code that suits its workplace better in case it reaches the employment tribunal, then it will take into consideration whether the employer has followed the Acas Code hence it is better to do so from the onset.
- The employer must check whether such an occurrence has happened before and if yes, then what steps were taken. This will mitigate the cry of unfair treatment. Hence gather information and evidence and make your decision armed with viable facts
- One of the best things an employer can do at this point is to keep the communication channels open. Keep talking with the employee and any other staff that has relevance with the said issue. Remember communication can assist in avoiding
- Reduced work morale
- Health issues
- Legal action down the line
The employer must keep all the information he has gathered through open talks confidential.
- The disciplinary action is not an easy process as it can cause stress and mental issues. If at this point the employer shows consideration about the wellbeing of his employee he can prevent the situation from escalating
- If the employee raises a grievance, then it is better for the employer if he pauses the disciplinary procedure and deals with it simultaneously or at first
- The employer should make an effort and talk through the concerns of the employee and encourage him to actively take part in the procedure so that everything can be cleared
3) Carry out an investigation
It is vital to investigate to gather relevant information. Record all the evidence and notes as this will help in establishing the facts about the situation
4) The disciplinary hearing
If the investigation points to the fact that there is a solid case for the procedure, then it is the time to prepare for the hearing.
- Make sure that the hearing is scheduled within a reasonable timeframe so that the employee also gets a chance to prepare his defense
- The employer should put in writing to the employee about the evidence from the investigation, alleged issue, the location, time and date of the hearing and the possible outcomes
- The employee has the right to bring proof in the hearing
- The employee has the right to bring a relevant person to the hearing. He must choose from a colleague, an official of a trade union or a rep of the workplace trade union which is certified to do so.
- The hearing is the chance for both the interested parties to state their case. Here the employee’s companion also plays a vital role as he can speak favorably for the employee and take notes during the hearing. The employee answers to the allegations against him, ask a question to the people he thinks are relevant, shows the evidence he has and responds to the information provided by the employer or witnesses. The employer is the first one to speak and should explain the alleged misconduct or issue, make sure someone credible is taking notes and go through the evidence and information he has collected.
- At the end of the hearing, the employer should think carefully before arriving at a decision. He should tell the employee about the next step and give him some time to think about it
- In case the employee could not make to the hearing because of ill health or a serious issue then the employer should pause the procedure hearing until the employee is fit to attend it
5) Deciding on the disciplinary outcome
The employer should tell about the issue to the employee as soon as possible in writing.
- If no action is needed against the employee, then the employer should talk to him privately to avoid misunderstandings.
- If the transgression is small, then it is time to give a verbal or informal warning.
- If the employer deems it necessary, he can give formal written warnings
- If the transgression is very serious, then the employer can take other actions like demotion or dismissal
- The employee has the right to appeal against the outcome
6) After the disciplinary procedure
The employer should talk with the employee to avoid gossip and hard feelings. No matter the result it is vital to keep a record of procedure hearing so that it can assist in similar cases in the future.