Managing Discipline Pages
The below is a step-by-step guideline on what to do if you are a manager and are faced with a situation where potential disciplinary action is required.
1. Incident occurs or complaint is received
You should deal with this as soon as possible and not delay any action that you need to take.
2. Determine if it is discipline or something else
If an employee allegedly breaks specific rules about, or falls below acceptable standards of, behaviour then this is referred to as “misconduct”.
If the employee does not appear to be meeting the employer’s expectations in how they perform their job, this is referred to as “performance”. Such cases need to be treated differently from those involving misconduct and the procedure set out within “Managing Performance” should be used to deal with such cases. Poor performance must not however be confused with negligence, which usually involves a measure of blame arising, for example, from lack of motivation or lack of attention which should be dealt with under the disciplinary procedure.
Another policy to be aware of is the ‘Substance Misuse’ policy. If misconduct is relating to a substance misuse problem, then you should consult there in the first instance. However, that is not to say that the policies cannot run at the same time.
Please note that lapses in professional registration are included under Managing Discipline.
3. Is the formal process required?
If it is established that this is a matter for Managing Discipline, then the line manager should determine if a formal investigation is required or not. Issues may be dealt with more informally through ‘Counselling’. For this, you will meet with the employee informally to go over any misconduct or shortcomings in behaviour, explore the reasons for these and draw up a plan for improvement.
4. Is it gross misconduct?
If it is established that the case requires a formal investigation, you will need to determine whether or not this is potentially gross misconduct or not. Please click below to get definitions of misconduct and gross misconduct.
*Please note that you should, at this stage, contact People and Organisation to advise them of the name, employee number and job title of the employee, plus the nature of the allegations made against them.*
5. If gross misconduct, you have to consider suspension or alternative to suspension
If it is determined that this is potential gross misconduct, the line manager will need to suspend the employee or put in place an alternative to suspension. An alternative to suspension would be preferable as an employee is on full pay during a period of suspension. Alternatives could include undertaking project work, changing location, additional supervision or restricted access to files or ICT. These are only examples and suitable alternatives should be considered on a case by case basis.
For further information and guidance on suspensions and alternative to suspensions, and also details about what to do when an employee is sick or when a suspension needs to be lifted, please click below for the Suspension / Alternative to Suspension guidance.
If you are suspending an employee or putting in place an alternative to suspension, you will need to preferably advise the employee at the first opportunity and then follow this up with a letter. Templates for these letters can be found below:
Further Suspension Letters
If you have suspended an employee or put in place an alternative to suspension, the below letters may become useful for you:
*Please note that you should advise People and Organisation if you are suspending somebody or putting in place an alternative to suspension and also when you make any amendments to these. You should also send People and Organisation copies of all letters*
6. Starting the investigation process
As line manager for the employee, you must now advise the appropriate Service Manager or Chief Officer about the discipline case and hand over any information that you have. The Service Manager or Chief Officer will then appoint an investigating officer.
Who can be an investigating officer?
An investigating officer can be anybody with the appropriate line management responsibility to be able to undertake formal disciplinary investigations. This can be the employee’s line manager. However, it is usually best practice to get somebody who is completely objective to undertake the investigation. This would be somebody who may not know the accused employee or has not been in formal dealings with them before. It would be worthwhile selecting somebody who is knowledgeable about any specific areas associated with the case. For example, if the allegation relates to health and safety breaches, you would appoint an investigating officer who is aware of health and safety regulations and requirements.
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