Disciplinary and Grievance Management

Thank you for sending for a copy of our nine point plan for managing a disciplinary or grievance investigation or meeting. We hope you find this useful.

Impact Training brings this 9 point plan to life on very lively and highly informative training courses. Specifically, our training courses bring this potentially “dry and dusty” subject to life with case studies, examples of best practice, the latest breaking news and a “surgery” on your existing policies and procedures. We have profiled an outline of a typical training course on the last page.

9 point plan

The nine headings under the 9 point plan are:-

  1. Resources, Key Documents and Reference Points
  2. The Meeting Environment – The Venue
  3. The Invitation to the Meeting or Interview
  4. The Opening of the Meeting or Interview
  5. The Formal Start, Batting Order and Sequential Structure for the Meeting/Interview
  6. The Conduct of the Meeting/Interview
  7. The Closure of the Meeting/Interview - Signposting Next Steps
  8. The Notice of Decision
  9. The Decision itself – reasonable, practical and proportionate

Some golden “health warnings” about the 9 point plan

In terms of the content of the actual case, do remember the overarching question: where could this go next? Keep in sharp focus the possibility that the issue might:-

  • Be appealed to the next stage
  • Go to external litigation
  • Become the subject of adverse external publicity

In keeping this overarching question in sharp focus, there is a better prospect that your actions will be:-

  • Reasonable
  • Practical
  • Proportionate

It is thus more likely that:-

  • Policies and procedures will be understood and followed very carefully
  • All matters will be recorded legibly and promptly
  • Appropriate internal or external advice will be taken in cases of doubt

Planning One - Key Documents and Reference Points.

Is there evidence that the manager has considered, knows about and can easily access:-

  • The appropriate in-house disciplinary policy or procedure covering both competency and capability issues?
  • The in-house grievance policy and procedure?
  • Any appropriate in-house policies or procedures linked to the disciplinary or grievance issue, for example a discrimination issue is going to be linked to the equal opportunities policy, a bullying issue is going to be linked to dignity at work policies, etc
  • .
  • The ACAS Code of Practice 2009.
  • The file or bundle of documents relating to the specific case.
  • Specialist human resources or legal experts on process issues and legal rights and responsibilities.

Planning Two – The Meeting Environment – The Venue.

Is there evidence that the manager has planned a neutral and user friendly venue which will:-

  • Not mean that the employee will have to come into contact with either those associated with the incident/issue and/or those with whom he or she works with on a regular basis
  • Be free of inappropriate noise and distractions
  • Lend itself to an appropriate seating and table format
  • Have clear access arrangements for anyone who has given notice of a specific access need
  • Have clear signposting and reception arrangements, especially if in a location unfamiliar to the parties
  • Mean the employer’s side can have access to the room at least 30 minutes before to check over that domestic arrangements are at a reasonable standard e.g. water, cleanliness of room, heating and absence of clutter
  • Provide for suitable “break out” accommodation for both parties should an adjournment or any form of disruption take place. These additional rooms should also be quality checked against the foregoing bullet points.

Planning Three – Invitation to Meeting

Is there evidence that the manager has included within the invitation letter:-

  • The precise and specific issues to be discussed at the meeting
  • A clear date on the letter and an indication if this has been delivered “by hand” in-house or by recorded postal delivery to the employee
  • The date, time and venue of the meeting
  • The specific reception arrangements that will be in place at the venue
  • Any specific security or access arrangements in place if the venue is at a place not normally used by the employee
  • A notice to the recipient of the letter to confirm their attendance by telephoning a designated person
  • A notice to the recipient of the letter to identify in advance any specific needs they might have in order that they can access the meeting. For example, there could be disability issues, timetabling for work and family considerations or religious dates. Is there a fall back plan in place if rescheduling has to take place because of these specific considerations?
  • A reasonable number of working days notice – minimum 24 hours – of the meeting
  • Full clarification about the status of the meeting, including the fact that if suspension has taken place, this is a neutral act
  • Full clarification about those attending the meeting on behalf of the employer
  • Full clarification about the person the employee may bring to the meeting whether this be a work colleague or trade union representative
  • Full clarification about the authority level and remit of the meeting
  • Finally, clarity about the contractual obligation to attend the meeting

Planning Four – The Opening of the Meeting or Interview

Is there evidence that the manager has prepared a comprehensive interview or meeting plan which includes at the start:-

  • Who will meet and greet?
  • Who will introduce the parties and respective roles?
  • Who will chair and open the meeting?
  • Who will take notes at the meeting?
  • Confirmation that everyone is in possession of the letter of invitation and all associated documentation
  • Clarity about any new documentation or materials which need photocopying or accessing – and the reasons for this
  • A complete overview of the meeting and interview structure – A to Z – entry to exit

Planning Five – The Meeting or Interview Batting Order and Formal Start

Is there evidence that the manager has prepared a comprehensive interview or meeting plan which is clear about the opening batting order and the sequential activities arising from this opening. This should include:-

  • Which side is going to open with a summary of the indicative key points for discussion and/or explanation (usually the employer)
  • Which side is going to open with a summary of the indicative responses and/or indicative rebuttals (usually the employee)
  • Is the interview planned in a logical and structured sequence relating to the chronology of initial events/incidents and subsequent events and incidents?
  • Indication of full right on both sides to question and/or explain in logical sequence

Planning Six – The Conduct of the Meeting or Interview

Is there evidence that in preparing for the sequential activities arising from the previous section that the manager is aware of the key issues for discussion and/or explanation? Does their interview plan demonstrate awareness that the following techniques and methods may have to be utilised:-

  • Open Questions
  • Closed Questions
  • Probing Questions
  • Situational Questions
  • Active Listening
  • Reflective Listening
  • Paraphrasing
  • Summarising
  • Closure of any one item once all aspects exhausted - with precise verbal summaries
  • Strategies that recognise once potential win-wins have been secured there is a way to record this fact
  • UHT to challenge inappropriate behaviour
  • Reasonable consideration of any request for an adjournment with complete clarity about the expected time or date of recommencement
  • Firm strategies to manage any unreasonable disruption to the logical sequence flow by the other party either “jumping” from subject to subject and/or introducing material evidence or information completely unrelated to the subject(s)
  • under discussion
  • Firm understanding that any disciplinary interview might reveal facts or allegations which could also form the basis for a grievance meeting around the same associated facts, or vice versa. Is there complete understanding how this potential twin track will be processed and by whom and when?
  • Intelligent anticipation of likely arguments and objections with prepared and agreed reasonable responses

Planning Seven – Closing the Meeting or Interview - Way Forward

Is there evidence that the manager has prepared a comprehensive interview or meeting plan which is clear about the closure issues and the sequential activities arising from this opening. This should include:-

  • Final summary of the employee’s side
  • Final summary and reflective stated understanding of employee’s side by employer
  • Final confirmation sought from employer that the employee has had opportunity to fully state their case
  • Clarity about when the recorded notes will be made available for both sides and opportunity to correct any errors of fact
  • Clarity about the decision making timetable and the range of sanctions or next steps that could be considered
  • Clarity and full detail about the right of appeal stages if the foregoing bullet point is not acceptable to the employee
  • Closure

Planning Eight – The Notice of Decision

Is there evidence that the manager has understood the critical need to promptly and accurately inform the employee and representative of the decision? This should include:-

  • Acknowledgement that the employee attended the meeting or interview on the given date and location
  • Confirmation that after careful consideration “x” decision has been taken which will mean “x, y or z” within the set timeframes
  • Notice of any further investigation or activity if the incident/event investigation has triggered this as appropriate
  • A comprehensive record of the meeting which may have already been provided to the employee and must be lodged on the personal file and/or sent to Human Resources with details of the foregoing two bullet points
  • Full details – again – of the appeal stages

Planning Nine – The Decision

Is there evidence that the manager has understood the critical need to be reasonable in determining a sanction or way forward with a particular issue? Is there evidence that there is an understanding about what is:-

  • Reasonable?
  • Practical?
  • Proportionate?
  • Meant by viewing disciplinary issues as an opportunity to support those with conduct or capability issues?
  • Meant by ensuring that learning points for the whole organisation are addressed when individual grievance cases identify these?

Disciplinary and Grievance Training Courses

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 taken towards conduct issues.

A menu of indicative content is profiled below. Your own policies and procedures are woven into the training narrative with a free after care service when the trainer will assist you in any redrafting or amendments to reflect prevailing best practice.

Content

  • Purpose of the Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures
  • Communicating Rules and Standards
  • Confidentiality and 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 Employment Act 2009, all UK Equality laws, the ACAS Code of Practice, European Directives, Access to Medical Records Act 1988 and the Data Protection Act.