The New Draft ACAS Code on Discipline and Grievance

Thank you for requesting our free fact sheet. We have concluded this briefing with details of our lively courses on disciplinary and grievance matters together with an outline of our new mock tribunal training service.

It is anticipated that the new ACAS code will come into effect when the new Employment Act takes effect in April 2009. This legislation repeals the statutory dispute resolution procedures. The main thrust of this particular change will be to create a new penalty for any unreasonable failure to follow the code. This will take the form of an adjustment of up to 25% on any award of compensation when the courts find that there has been such an unreasonable failure.

  • The code will not apply to redundancies or the termination of fixed term contracts.
  • The code states that employers and employees must “seek” to resolve issues in the workplace - the previous code used the words “should do all that they can” to resolve issues
  • The new law states that the ACAS code has greater importance than previously. There is a very strong suggestion that all parties should read and apply its contents very carefully indeed.

The code has four sections.

Section One – The Introduction

This sets out useful guidelines for employers dealing with discipline and grievance including the need to deal with issues promptly and consistently. This section provides definitions of disciplinary situations (misconduct and/or poor performance) and grievances (concerns, problems or complaints that employees raise with their employers)

Section Two – Discipline

Six key steps are set out in much more detail for processing a disciplinary issue. The six steps address the following issues in detail:-

  1. Establish the facts – the investigatory meeting arrangements provide for more flexibility
  2. Information to the employee – there is greater access for information to be provided to the employee, including copies of witness statements
  3. The conduct of the investigatory meeting
  4. Rights to be accompanied
  5. Sanctions – The oral warning stage has now been replaced with a written warning, final written warning and dismissal sanction
  6. The right of appeal

Section Three –Grievance

Almost a mirror image of the foregoing, the code provides specific guidance on five critical steps:-

  1. A requirement that the grievance must be in writing
  2. The conduct of the grievance meeting
  3. The right to be accompanied
  4. Appropriate action
  5. A new focus on the appeal stage- the new wording states “the employee should be allowed to take the matter further on appeal”. This places a burden on employers to allow an appeal

Section Four – Overlapping and Miscellaneous Issues

This is a new and very useful section. Overlapping grievance and discipline issues are addressed in the new code. These provisions state that a disciplinary process may be temporarily suspended to allow a grievance to be heard, or, if the grievance and disciplinary issues are related, they may be dealt with concurrently.

Collective grievances are addressed. The new code does not apply to grievances raised on behalf of two or more employees by a trade union or other appropriate workplace representative. This prevents the risk of a 25% adjustment where such grievances are not handled individually.

Our Training Courses

Impact Training Consultancy provide training on all these matters with courses on:-

  • Disciplinary and Grievance
  • A Mock Tribunal Service

Disciplinary and Grievance

Overview

Disputes at work are expensive, stressful and disruptive for both employers and employees alike. But both employers and employees agree that early, constructive discussion can produce solutions before problems escalate and working relationships break down. If the dispute is not solved and results in a tribunal case, both sides face a protracted, unsettling experience. Equally, inappropriate behaviour at work needs handling in an appropriate but fair manner. Dignity at work allied to an employer's lawful expectations of staff will be easier to achieve and maintain if a consistent, structured and transparent approach is taking towards conduct issues.

Level of Participants

Anyone at a supervisory or managerial level

Duration

One Day

Content

  • Purpose of the Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures
  • Communicating Rules and Standards
  • Confidentiality & Record Keeping
  • Support Arrangements
  • Informal Resolution
  • Immediate Suspension
  • Representation
  • Investigations
  • Arranging a Formal Disciplinary Hearing
  • Conducting Hearings
  • Deciding on a penalty
  • Confirming the Outcome
  • Appeals
  • Special Cases

The course draws upon the provisions of the new Employment Act 2008, all UK Equality laws, the ACAS Code of Practice, European Directives, Access to Medical Records Act 1988 and the Data Protection Act. The course blends formal "talk and chalk" learning with lively "hands on" participatory and some role-play exercises, especially around hearings and preliminary investigations. We also weave into the course the precise details of the policies and procedures used by the client.

Outcomes

Delegates will be able to engage in all informal and formal processes linked to in-house disciplinary and grievance policies against the backcloth of prevailing legislation and corporate best practice in the UK

Previous Delegates

  • Human Resources Officers
  • Trade Unions
  • Senior and Middle Managers
  • First level supervisors
  • Voluntary Group Managers

Mock Tribunal Training

When these policies break down, the tribunal is the next step! Employment Tribunals have many procedures and rules that can confuse and mystify. Our Mock Employment Tribunal Training brings together in lively and animated proceedings a rich fund of:-

  • Cameo scenes – from initial presentation to leaving the court
  • Tools and tactics that make a real victory in the real world more likely
  • Things to avoid – those horrible pitfalls

Facilitated by a former Head of Human Resources and with a cast of one or two playing various parts, we can promise you a “one stop shop” to address any specific personnel or legal issues that you raise.

We will ask “you the jury” for verdicts between the live cameo sessions and at the end of our proceedings to make a judgement. Compare it with our experts.

A real case drawn from the recent past, but suitably disguised, will include:-

  • The bundles
  • Witness statements
  • Evidence in chief and cross examination

We won’t burden you with lots of glossaries, cases and other training materials but we will certainly signpost good sources of free resources and information as well as advice.

With our Mock Tribunal and our after care service you should never have to experience the real thing. But if you do, you’ll be ready!