Disciplinaries and Grievances - Employment law update

Following on from the announcement that employment tribunal fees are to be scrapped, many employers may be concerned that the risk of a claim being made against them will have now increased.

Taking action without seeking legal advice or fully understanding the law can prove costly.

We are publishing on this website a short series of blogs that offer a useful general guide to some of the most contentious areas of employment law legislation.

This blog post focuses on disciplinaries and grievances.

Sound policies

Having sound HR and employment related policies and procedures is obviously good practice for employers. When dealing with disciplinaries and grievances it is very important to follow the correct rules if employers want to avoid facing Tribunal claims.

Acas have official guidelines for managing disciplinaries and grievances that must be followed by employers when any formal issue has been raised.

An increase in compensation?

Either party in a disciplinary or grievance dispute could be faced with an increase in the compensation made against them if they fail to follow the correct procedures.

For example, if an employee was claiming constructive dismissal in a case where they had accepted their contract as being brought to an end without following the internal grievance procedure first, they could have their compensation reduced.

Similarly, if an employer dismisses an employee for gross misconduct without offering them the opportunity to appeal, they might have the compensation payment increased as they have not followed the correct procedure.

Interesting recent cases

In a recent case (Wileman v Lancaster & Duke Ltd), an employee was awarded 7000 in damages after she was dismissed for gross misconduct without her employer raising formal concerns about her behaviour before she was dismissed.

In another case in 2014, the Supreme Court stopped an NHS Trust from bringing a disciplinary hearing over confidentiality breaches because it had not carried out its own full investigation of the breaches.

Disciplinary procedures

Disciplinary procedures should include a list of sanctions that are implemented before issuing a verbal warning or written final warning.

Employers must take into account the levels of sanctions and penalties available and ensure that they act in a reasonable manner.

Avoid expensive tribunal costs

To avoid expensive tribunal costs employers need to deal with any disciplinary or grievance issues informally in the first instance and keep lines of communication open. Having said that an employer also needs to recognise when the case is a more serious one and the informal process would be inappropriate.

Recent stories in the news regarding complaints in respect of the behaviour of politicians and other alleged cases of sexual harassment or assault are good examples of cases where an informal process would not be appropriate.

It is also important to ensure that the employee does not feel persecuted for raising the issue with their employer or manager. If complaints are ignored or procedures not followed correctly then the issue is much more likely to escalate.

Need help?

If you need any support with employment law issues do get in touch with Daniel Zakis at our Solihull office on 0121 705 7571.

This article is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute technical, financial, legal advice or any other type of professional advice and is no substitute for specific advice based on your individual circumstances. We do not accept responsibility or liability for any actions taken based on the information in this article. For more information, please click here.