Disciplinary Actions

  • Disciplinary
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Businesses often work hard to ensure their employees work effectively in the workplace. But sometimes an employee’s behaviour can interfere with this.

This may include affecting their working habits or disrupting an entire workplace, reducing productivity or even profits.

Mishandling a disciplinary action after the correct procedure can result in employment tribunals and create further problems for employees.

In this guide, we’ll explain what a disciplinary action is, what the process is and how many stages of actions there are.

What is disciplinary action?

Disciplinary actions are measures that are taken at work in response to unwanted conduct by employees.

The disciplinary process is governed by the ACAS Code of Practice, which sets out the steps to be followed to deal with conduct issues fairly.

Employers should have a disciplinary policy that outlines these steps. It will also define the disciplinary action meaning for the organisation and give examples of actions that may result in disciplinary action.

The disciplinary process is a clear procedure that enables employers to address the issue of misconduct in the workplace.

What are the four levels of disciplinary actions?

The ACAS code sets out the different levels of disciplinary action that may be taken. This should be in the policy, so that employees are aware of the potential consequences of their actions.

When undertaking a disciplinary process, it is crucial that the possible outcome of said process is laid out. This is to ensure the employee understands the seriousness of the matter.

The 4 levels of outcome are as follows:

  • Verbal warning (alternatively, this can be an informal stage without a full disciplinary hearing).
  • Written warning.
  • Final written warning. 
  • Dismissal / dismissal for gross misconduct.

Is there a time limit for disciplinary actions?

Strictly speaking, no. However, employers are required to act reasonably.

It’s unlikely that an act that took place some time ago would be appropriate for disciplinary action. This is unless it was very serious and concealed from the employer.

Additionally, to avoid unfair disciplinary action at work employers must ensure a fair and thorough investigation takes place.

The older the matter the more difficult this will be, as memories fade and evidence may be destroyed.

Are disciplinary actions confidential?

Under data protection laws, the details of a disciplinary would be considered personal information, and therefore they should not be disclosed to others.

Even those involved may not need to know all the details of the case in order to properly contribute.

For example, witnesses do not need to be told who else has been spoken to.

How to appeal a disciplinary action

It is an essential part of any disciplinary process that there is a right of appeal.

The process to do this should be in the relevant policy. Your employee should submit in writing to you why they think the decision was wrong.

A hearing should then take place where the appeal can be discussed, and a final outcome given.

Get expert advice on managing disciplinary actions with Peninsula

Disciplinary actions may be necessary to maintain the standards in the workplace. Initially, you should try to sort out the issue informally before following the correct procedure further.

If a disciplinary action is mishandled, then you could face employment tribunal claims. This could create further problems for your business’ reputation and workforce’s morale.

Peninsula offers expert guidance on disciplinary actions. Our clients get access to 24-hour HR advice helping them manage regulations effectively.

Get in touch today; or use our callback form to arrange for us to get in touch at a time that is convenient for you. Call us on 0800 051 3685


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