Not establishing the facts of the case

The employer must clearly establish the facts before deciding whether formal action is necessary. The facts must be recorded, e.g. documentary evidence; business rationale; written statements; minutes of informal investigatory meetings or formal consultation meetings.

Not warning the employee of the possible consequences of disciplinary action

The employee must be made well aware of the possible outcomes of any disciplinary action taken against them. This is in order for the employee to understand the gravity of any allegations made against them and for them to be able to defend such allegations fairly and appropriately.

Having the same person deal with the whole disciplinary process

Where the same person is responsible for conducting the initial investigation, disciplinary hearing and subsequent appeal, the disciplinary process may be deemed unfair or biased towards the employer. Although it may not be possible to conduct the process in any other way for small employers, different people should carry out the process where practicable.

Ignoring evidence in favour of the employee’s mitigation whilst considering the evidence against it

Even where an employer is convinced that the employee is in the wrong, any explanation or evidence to the contrary should not be disregarded; it should be investigated properly. All evidence that the employer intends to rely on should be provided to the employee ahead of any disciplinary hearing to allow adequate time to prepare a defence.

Not giving ‘lesser’ warnings where they are appropriate 

Only in very serious cases will summary dismissal be justified; it is important that the employer’s decision and the action to be taken are reasonable in the circumstances. It is most likely that an employee should receive a series or warnings before a final written warning and dismissal are appropriate.

Need advice on the issue or further clarification? Then call the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.