UK Employment Law
UK Employment Law Questions Answered by Verified Experts
Hello and thank you for your question, which I will gladly help with. Please let me know what would you like to know about this?
How long have you worked there for?
and what happened at the disciplinary?
Sorry I was offline by the time you had replied. Generally, an employee’s misconduct is a common reason for an employer taking disciplinary action. The misconduct could either be a single act of serious misconduct or a series of less serious acts over a period of time. It is usual for employers to have a disciplinary policy in the workplace, which would contain examples of what amounts to misconduct, but in the absence of one it would be down to a common sense interpretation of law and fact.
In order to justify that disciplinary action on grounds of misconduct was fair, the law requires that:
The first requirement is for the employer to conduct a reasonable investigation. Following the investigation they have to hold a genuine belief that the employee was guilty of the alleged misconduct. Finally, if they discipline the employee they have to show that the measures taken were a reasonable response that a reasonable employer would have taken in the circumstances.
Investigation - what is a reasonable investigation depends entirely on the circumstances and what resources are available to the employer. A reasonable investigation would generally include interviewing witnesses, obtaining available documentary evidence, etc. However, an employer is only expected to go as far as is reasonably practicable in the circumstances and they would not be expected to conduct a forensically detailed investigation.
Disciplinary hearing - if the investigation shows evidence that misconduct may have occurred then the employee should be invited to attend a formal disciplinary hearing to answer the allegations. They must be given prior notice of the meeting, details of the allegations and any evidence to be used against them. They have the statutory right to be accompanied at the hearing but only by a trade union representative or a colleague. Legal representation or family/friends are not allowed, unless the employer agrees. At the disciplinary hearing the employee must be given the opportunity to defend the allegations. The employer must take the employee’s representations into account before making a decision.
Decision - if, as a result of the investigation and the disciplinary hearing, the employer holds a genuine belief that the employee was guilty of the alleged misconduct, then they can go ahead and formally sanction the employee if necessary. When deciding on the appropriate penalty, the employer should consider the employee's length of service and disciplinary record. Therefore, longer service and clean disciplinary record should result in the employer giving more thought into deciding what action to take.
Sanction - unless the offence in question amounts to gross misconduct (i.e. something so serious to justify instant dismissal), the ACAS Code of Practice recommends that the employee should be issued with a warning first. If any further misconduct occurs in the future, only then should dismissal be considered.
In summary, an employer is not expected to prove that the alleged misconduct had definitely occurred. To be able to justify disciplinary action as being fair, it has to show that it had conducted a reasonable investigation, followed a fair procedure and held a genuine belief that the employee was guilty. Finally, it must show that the penalty was a reasonable action to take in the circumstances and one that a reasonable employer would have taken.
If you have any doubts about any of the above and believe that the employer has not conducted a reasonable investigation or followed a fair procedure, you have the option of appealing to the employer after a formal disciplinary decision has been taken against you. If the outcome is dismissal then you can also consider submitting a claim for unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal. There is a strict time limit of 3 months less a day from the date of dismissal to issue a claim and you need at least 1 year’s continuous service to qualify.
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at this stage you are dealing with pure speculation I'm afraid because their decision has not been made. You may be thinking the worst, but that may not necessarily happen. Wait for their decision and check exactly what was decided and why and then reconsider your position again and what steps to take
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