The majority of employers are currently aware that following a correct procedure can be the difference between winning and losing a tribunal claim. However, a decision taken at the conclusion of this procedure, will not always be the final step employers have to take. Though employers may wish to conclude the matter and move on from any contention, it is an important step in any procedure to allow employees the opportunity to appeal the decision.
All procedures which contain the right to appeal should state that this right is included within the process. This is important in procedures such as disciplinary or grievance procedures as appeals are required for a fair process to be carried out. It may be best practice to remind the employee of their right to appeal and an easy way of doing this is to simply state the employee has a right to appeal in the letter which confirms the sanction or outcome of the process. Employers should not be wary of doing this because not all employees will appeal, especially where the sanction was correct and reasonably applied in the first place, however it will be important evidence to show that you have followed a reasonable process.
An appeal procedure is imperative to include when disciplining staff because a tribunal will take in to account whether an appeal has been offered or carried out when determining if the employer has followed the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. Additionally, where the right to appeal has been offered and the employee has not exercised this, this will also be taken in to account by a tribunal. Disciplinary cases at tribunal can be won or lost on whether an appeal procedure has been followed and it will also have an effect on the amount of compensation awarded in a successful claim, though this can be a negative deduction where the employee has not followed the process.
Whilst a disciplinary sanction may be correct at the time it is given, the time between the sanction and any appeal can bring to light further evidence which, when examined, can make the decision unfair. An appeal can allow the new evidence to be taken in to account and to take in to account any impact this has on the original decision. This is often the case in sectors such as care where misconduct cases are usually carried out in conjunction with external investigations.
If you need any clarification on this issue then contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.