How to solve a workplace dispute

by Nadine De Souza

Unfortunately, for most employers, at some point a disciplinary issue will come up with an employee. Perhaps their performance isn't up to scratch or maybe they are always late for work. It’s important that you handle it in the right way and follow the correct procedures.

Our simple guide below sets out the 10 essential steps you must remember to take so that the process runs as smoothly as possible.

1. Discuss your concerns informally with your employee

This may lead to an easy resolution to the matter. Sometimes a quiet word in private is all that is needed to sort out the issue. It might be that your employee needs extra coaching or training to improve their performance. 

Make sure that you listen to your employee. If you think improvement is what is required of your employee, then make sure that they understand what they need to do and confirm it in writing. If this doesn’t work, then continue to step 2 below.

2. Take formal action

Start the disciplinary process in line with what is set out in your staff handbook or employment contract.

3. Find out what is going on

You may need to hold an investigatory meeting. This should establish the facts and shouldn't discuss formal disciplinary action.

4. Write to the employee 

Let your employee know about the alleged misconduct or poor performance so that they have time to prepare for a disciplinary meeting. 

You should include a time and date for the meeting and inform the employee of their right to be accompanied at the meeting.

5. Hold a disciplinary meeting

You should explain your complaints to the employee and go through the evidence that has been gathered. 

The employee should then be given a chance to set out their case and answer any allegations.

6. Allow the employee to be accompanied

Employees have a statutory right to be accompanied by a companion where the disciplinary meeting could result in a formal warning being issued or disciplinary action. The companion can be a colleague, trade union representative or an official employed by a trade union.

7. Decide on the best course of action

You should take account of the rules of your company, the employee’s disciplinary record, work record, work experience, position and length of service, whether the penalty for the misconduct is reasonable and whether any training or extra support are necessary.

8. Inform your employee of the decision

There might be no penalty, a first written warning or improvement note, a final written warning or dismissal. Depending on your decision the employee might be given time to improve and if they don’t improve, then you can dismiss them. 

If you decide that the issue is serious enough, then you can dismiss your employee immediately.

9. Give your employee a chance to appeal

An employee can appeal because of new evidence or the severity or inconsistency of the penalty. The appeal may either be a review of the disciplinary penalty or a rehearing. 

Appeals should usually be lodged within five working days. They should usually be heard by someone more senior than the person who took the original disciplinary meeting.

10. Follow the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures

Throughout the whole process you should follow the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. 

If you don’t follow the ACAS Code of Practice and your employee takes you to an employment tribunal, then the tribunal can adjust the compensation by up to 25 per cent.

Help from Lawpack

If you want more in-depth information – from an employment lawyer – about all aspects of employment law, then read our guide Employment Law Made Easy. Packed with tips and expert advice on complying with employment legislation.

Why not download our Disciplinary & Dismissal Procedure, so you have a solicitor-approved company policy in place?

Other information

External links

Published on: May 2, 2014

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