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Discipline and Grievance

Q

We have been in business for 10 years and have never had to discipline anyone before, but we have recently employed someone whose attendance is unsatisfactory.  Despite a couple of informal chats about this there has not been any improvement and so we want to take disciplinary action but are not sure how  to go about this, what should we do?

A

Guidance on handing disciplinary matters is available in the Labour Relations Agency Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures using the following link Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures and the Advisory Guide to Handling Discipline and Grievances at Work,

If our answer or publications do not provide you with enough information please contact the Agency's Head Office: 028 9032 1442 - or our Regional Office: 028 7126 9639.

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Q

What is the Statutory Disciplinary Procedure and when should it be used?

A

The Statutory Dismissal and Disciplinary Procedure (effective from April 2005) applies to most dismissals and all disciplinary action excluding oral and written warnings.  However, an employer may (in the absence of a more detailed company procedure) chose to use the 3 step procedure in all disciplinary situations. The three steps require an employer to:

1.Send the employee a written explanation of the conduct or other circumstances that have led them to consider taking disciplinary action against them.

2.Invite the employee to a meeting to discuss the issue and inform them of their decision after the meeting is over.

3.Invite the employee to an appeal meeting – if they wish to appeal the employer’s decision.  

Further guidance on handing disciplinary matters is available in the Labour Relations Agency Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures using the following link Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures and the Advisory Guide to Handling Discipline and Grievances at Work,

If our answer or publications do not provide you with enough information please contact the Agency's Head Office: 028 9032 1442 - or our Regional Office: 028 7126 9639.

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Q

I have been told that I can bring a colleague or trade union official with me to a disciplinary hearing and that they are only there to support me and cannot say anything.  Is this right?

A

Workers have a legal right to be accompanied at disciplinary and grievance hearings by a companion – that is a trade union official or work colleague.  The companion has the right to address the hearing to put the worker’s case, sum up the worker’s case and respond on the worker’s behalf to any view expressed at the meeting.  They may also confer with the worker during the hearing.  However, the companion cannot answer questions on the worker’s behalf, or address the hearing if the worker does not wish it.  It is good practice to allow a companion to participate as fully as possible during a disciplinary hearing.  

Further information and guidance on the right to be accompanied is available in the Labour Relations Agency Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance which can be accessed using the link Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures

If our answer or publications do not provide you with enough information please contact the Agency's Head Office: 028 9032 1442 - or our Regional Office: 028 7126 9639.

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Q

My trade union official is unavailable to attend my disciplinary hearing with me and when I asked my employer if they would reschedule until next week, they refused.  I don’t want to go on my own but there is no one else I can bring; does my employer have to reschedule the hearing?

A

Yes; an employer should permit a worker’s companion to have a say in the date and time of the proposed disciplinary or grievance hearing.  If the companion cannot attend on the proposed date the worker is permitted to suggest an alternative date and time, as long as it is reasonable and no longer than 5 working days after the original date.  

Further information and guidance on the right to be accompanied is available in the Labour Relations Agency Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance which can be accessed using the link Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures

If our answer or publications do not provide you with enough information please contact the Agency's Head Office: 028 9032 1442 - or our Regional Office: 028 7126 9639.

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Q

Our disciplinary procedure says that a recorded oral warning will be held on file for 6 months, but an employee has recently said that is against the law.  We don’t believe that it is but are not sure; could you advise us on this?

A

The law does not stipulate how long any type of disciplinary warning should be kept on file, although the Labour Relations Agency Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures suggests that oral warnings be held for a period not exceeding 6 months and written warnings for a period not exceeding 12 months.  After these periods these warnings should be deemed spent and disregarded for disciplinary purposes.  The Data Protection Employment Practices Code recommends that a system should be set up to remove spent warnings from an individual’s record, where such removal is a requirement of your disciplinary procedure.

For further information see the Agency’s Discipline and Grievance Code of Practice Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures

If our answer or publications do not provide you with enough information please contact the Agency's Head Office: 028 9032 1442 - or our Regional Office: 028 7126 9639.

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