HR Dorset Services
employment law + hr
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Disciplinary procedures and employment contracts.
An employer can also put their disciplinary procedures in the employment contract. If they do so and then do not follow the procedure, the employee could bring a claim for breach of contract.
If an employee thinks that the disciplinary action is unfair they can appeal to their employer setting out their grounds for appeal.
The employee should be offered the option to attend a further meeting to discuss the appeal which should be heard as soon as possible and in accordance with any timescales as set out in the Disciplinary Procedure. This meeting should be chaired by someone with sufficient seniority who was not involved in the initial disciplinary meeting/ process wherever possible.
As per the disciplinary meeting, the employee should be given reasonable notice and should be offered the right to be accompanied by a companion in accordance with the criteria above.
Following the appeal meeting, the employer should write to the employee setting out their final decision. There is no further right of appeal.
Sometimes it is necessary to suspend an employee whilst a potential disciplinary issue is investigated, this is normally where the allegations are very serious or, if the employee being in the workplace or continuing to work may have an effect on the investigation or potentially put the safety of co-workers, visitors, themselves, property or data at risk. This means that suspension doesn’t happen very often. If, however it is necessary to suspend an employee, this will usually be with pay and the employer should (in most cases) be told why they are being suspended.
The Employment Contract will dictate whether an employer can suspend without pay. If this is permitted, the employer must act reasonably in doing so.
If the Employment Contract does not say that the employer can suspend the employee, the employer may still be able to suspend the employee, but this should be with pay.
All employment rights remain in place during any suspension and if the employer does not have a contractual right to withhold pay, or even if the employer does, the employee may seek to make a claim in the Employment Tribunal for ‘unlawful deduction from wage.
An employer should confirm the terms of suspension in writing. An employer may advise the employee that they are not permitted to talk to or make contact with other employees, customers and / or suppliers and should the employee do so, the employer may be able to bring further disciplinary action. Employers need to be aware however that the employee must be able to make any necessary contact to defend their actions and therefore some contact may be necessary so some leniency may be required. This may be the case where the employee considers they need to obtain evidence to support their case from a work IT system or speak to a co-worker who was witness to an incident. Of course, if an employee wants to request a co-worker accompany them to the disciplinary hearing, they will need authority from the employer to make appropriate contact.