Dealing with resignations during disciplinary processes

Alan Price – CEO at BrightHR

January 18 2016

Handling a staff resignation after their disciplinary has started... Sometimes, after a staff disciplinary has been actioned and the process has started, the employee in question may decide to resign – but with the procedure already underway, where does that leave you? Should you continue with the disciplinary, or does the resignation mean you should cancel it? The way to decide which way you should go will depend on whether or not the employee has given notice with their resignation... Resignations with immediate effect If the employee has resigned with immediate effect, there’s no point in continuing with the process: the individual is no longer employed by you and you can’t enforce any kind of disciplinary action on ex-employees. However, make sure you keep any information gathered during the investigation process, alongside all other employment documentation you have that relates to the ex-employee, just in case any tribunal claims are brought.  Resignations with notice If the employee intends to serve their notice, then you should continue with the disciplinary process even though you’ll soon be parting company. All rule breaches should be dealt with consistently, and no employee should not be ‘let off’, and avoid a disciplinary record, just because they’ve chosen to resign. There are two reasons for this: 1. To send a clear message to the rest of your employees that disciplinary rules and procedures are taken seriously, and that if a rule is alleged to have been breached, you will deal with it in line with your policies. 2. If the breach could result in the employee’s dismissal (i.e. a gross misconduct offence, or an accumulation of live warnings where dismissal is the next appropriate sanction) the employee can still be dismissed. A dismissal in these circumstances would supersede the employee’s resignation and should therefore then be recorded as the reason for termination of employment. Resignations during a disciplinary process can sometimes be seen as hasty decisions. Employers may choose to ask the employee to reconsider their decision, particularly if they’re a valued member of the team, and the act of misconduct at the centre of the disciplinary procedure is minor. However, even if the employee is asked to reconsider their position, it should be made clear to them that the disciplinary process will continue should they choose to retract their resignation.  

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