If your employer believes you have done something that may constitute a disciplinary offence, they may start an internal disciplinary procedure. Most employers will have a written disciplinary procedure that should be followed. In the absence of any written disciplinary procedure, your employer should follow the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
A typical disciplinary procedure will include the following:
Carry out an investigation - before your employer decides to follow a formal disciplinary procedure, it should undertake a reasonable investigation to ascertain the facts relating to the disciplinary allegations that have been made against you.
Letter inviting you to a disciplinary hearing - the letter should set out the specific allegations of misconduct, advising you of your right to be accompanied and the possible outcomes for you if, following a disciplinary hearing, it concludes that the allegations are correct. You should be given adequate notice of the hearing to allow you to prepare yourself and put together any evidence to support your case.
Hold a disciplinary hearing - this should be conducted by someone other than the person who carried out the investigation. The purpose of the hearing is to go through any evidence produced by the investigation, give you the opportunity to put forward your version of events and establish whether any further investigations need to be carried out before a decision is made.
Letter informing you of its decision - this should be done in writing as soon as possible after the hearing. You should also be informed of your right to appeal and the procedure to do so.
If an act of misconduct is proven, your employer may give you a written warning. If the misconduct is serious, your employer may decide to go straight to a final written warning rather than give a first written warning.
In cases of gross misconduct for particularly serious offences such as theft it may be appropriate for the employer to by-pass the first steps and the appropriate discipline may be immediate dismissal. However, even if the offence is particularly serious, your employer should still follow a fair and thorough procedure.
For the dismissal to be fair, your employer will need to show that it was reasonable in all the circumstances for them to reach the decision to dismiss you.
Where your employer has failed to follow a fair procedure, a tribunal may find you have been unfairly dismissed. Further, the level of compensation awarded can be increased by up to 25% if the employer unreasonably failed to follow the Code.
If you are facing a disciplinary hearing or have been dismissed for conduct reasons, please contact our employment department who will be able to advise you further.