The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures provides essential guidelines for employment tribunals to follow during a disciplinary or grievance procedure.

Although it is not formal legislation, employment tribunals are bound by law to follow to the authoritative advice given in the Code of Practice when qualifying a tribunal claim.

The ACAS Code of Practice sets clear parameters for both employers and employees to follow. It is the duty of the tribunal to ensure that both employer and employee have acted in accordance with the Code of Practice, and to use it as a direct reference point for best practice.

In itself, breaching the Code of Practice does not make an employer liable to proceedings, but it could have the effect of adjusting the award. For instance, if an employer is judged to have not acted in accordance with these guidelines in any way,  employee compensation may be increased by up to 25%. Likewise, if an employee is judged to have not acted in accordance with these guidelines then their compensation may be decreased by up to 25%.

Disciplinary procedures

The following guidelines for disciplinary procedures are included in the Code of Practice:

  • Inform the employee of the issue and invite them to a disciplinary hearing
  • Hold the hearing
  • Allow the employee the statutory right to be accompanied
  • Decide on appropriate action
  • Inform the employee of the decision
  • Allow the right of appeal  

Grievance procedures

The following guidelines for grievance procedures are included in the Code of Practice:

  • Hold a grievance hearing to discuss the complaint
  • Allow the employee the statutory right to be accompanied
  • Decide on appropriate action
  • Inform the employee of the decision
  • Allow the right of appeal  

Who are Acas?

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) is a non-departmental government body that aims to improve organisational welfare and working life by promoting employment best practice, particularly with regard to dispute resolution.  

The law behind Acas Code of Practice

As stated above, there is no formal legislation covering the Acas Code of Practice.

However, there are several aspects of the Employment Rights Act that relate to the advice provided within these guidelines, such as fair or unfair reasons for dismissal. If ‘conduct’ was called into question, for instance, the tribunal would be required to follow the disciplinary procedure specific to this claim.

Summary

  • The Acas Code of Practice provides authoritative advice for employment tribunals to follow in order to ensure a sound and consistent procedure for disciplinaries and grievances.
  • Although the Code of Practice is not covered by formal legislation, tribunals are bound by law to refer to these guidelines when qualifying a claim.
  • Failing to uphold these standards can result in the adjustment of a tribunal’s final verdict, such as levels of compensation due to be paid.