Common mistakes employers make when it comes to disciplining employees

Peninsula Team

November 14 2014

Carrying out disciplinary action against employees often means carrying out a long and complicated process where there are many opportunities to slip up and make a mistake. Mistakes can be harmful to businesses as they can damage employer-employee relationships and can potentially lead to costly legal action. There are many pitfalls to avoid but the most common mistakes made can be easily fixed.

Not setting out the allegations against the employee or giving them the relevant evidence

Employee should be told exactly what allegations are being made against them. Any fair disciplinary action can only be based on the allegations set out at this point so employers should make it clear what their concerns are at this time. Any evidence held against the employee to support the allegation, such as witness statements, should be given to the employee in advance of a disciplinary hearing. This is so that they have an opportunity to understand and answer the case against them, which goes a long way in proving that the process was fair.

Not telling the employee what the possible consequences are

The employee should be told of any possible outcomes the disciplinary process may have. This will point towards a fair procedure by giving the employee the opportunity to understand the consequences of their alleged actions and the seriousness of any disciplinary action. This again contributes towards them being able to set out an appropriate defence to answer the case against them.

Not allowing the employee to be accompanied

An employee has a statutory right to be accompanied to a disciplinary hearing. This right arises where the employee makes a reasonable request to be accompanied, by either a fellow co-worker or a trade union representative. Refusing this right when a reasonable request has been made can be used as evidence against the fairness of the procedure.

Having the same person deal with the whole of the disciplinary procedure

In small businesses it can be common that the same person carries out the whole of the disciplinary process, from investigation to disciplinary hearing to appeal hearing. This may suggest that the process carried out is unfair or biased. Though this may not always be possible, it is strongly suggested that different people carry out the different stages.

If you need any clarification on this issue then contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.

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