The latest free Bond Williams HR seminar was a great success, held in conjunction with Acas at AFC Bournemouth last week. The subject matter was discipline and grievance at work; a complex subject yet one that can overwhelm the most experienced office team if not handled correctly. Luckily, Acas has a clear and concise Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures that help make the process as streamlined and stress free as possible.
They always recommend taking informal action where possible – the key is communication. If line managers can resolve disciplinary or grievance issues informally and quickly, there is minimal disruption to working life for all involved. Talk to the employee in private in a two-way discussion. Criticism should be constructive, with the emphasis being on finding ways for the employee to improve and for the improvement to be sustained. This is suitable for minor misconduct or unsatisfactory performance.
Before moving onto taking formal action, make sure you have establish the facts and you may like to consider mediation, too. Notify your employee in writing, hold a meeting with the option of the employee being accompanied, then decide action. Your options are: no penalty; first written warning (some prefer to call it an ‘improvement note’); final written warning; dismissal or other sanction.
Employees should have an opportunity to appeal – they should let their employer know the grounds for their appeal without unreasonable delay and in writing. As with the first meeting, the employer should also tell the employee if the appeal meeting is the final stage of the grievance procedure – some large organisations may have the option to allow a further appeal to a higher level of management, such as a director. However, in smaller firms the first appeal will usually mark the end of the grievance procedure.
More information is available online from Acas or enquire about a specialist training session for your organisation here.
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