Changes to Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures
Robert Gibson – Head of Employment – Samuel Phillips
Approval of the draft ACAS Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance has been given by the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Provided the revised Code receives final endorsement from Parliament, the eagerly awaited changes will come into effect on 6th April 2009.
When the new Code is in force, the mandatory “three-step” processes for disciplinary and dismissal procedures raised by an Employer and for grievances raised by an Employee will be repealed.
Consequently, unlike under the current statutory procedures, Employees will no longer be barred from lodging a claim without first raising a grievance, and Employers failure to follow the Code will not result in a finding of automatic unfair dismissal. Instead, Tribunals will decide cases on the basis of what is ‘fair and reasonable’.
The benefit to these changes is that Employees and Employers will have greater flexibility to deal with workplace discipline and grievance issues in a way which suits their individual requirements, and that of the industry in which they work.
Even so, Employees and Employers should remain vigilant as Tribunals will be able to adjust any award by up to 25 percent for unreasonable failure to comply with any provision of the Code. Employers and Employees are, for example, expected to act promptly and consistently, and so any evidence of acting to the contrary could result in the Tribunal penalizing either party when it comes to determining a financial settlement.
It is therefore recommended that Employers continue to follow a structured internal disciplinary procedure, very similar to the current statutory procedures, with a stage one letter, stage two meeting, and a stage three appeal.
Employers would also be well advised to keep written records of any disciplinary or grievance cases that they deal with, so that they can document their practice should a claim ever be brought to the Tribunal.
Robert Gibson of Samuel Phillip’s Law Firm says Employers should remain aware that, whilst a Tribunal is required to give regard to the ACAS Code, they are not governed by it, and any outcome is at the Tribunal’s discretion, based on their interpretation of the facts of the case. Employers should therefore not see the changes to the Code as an opportunity to relax upon best practice.
For further details on the changes, please contact Robert Gibson at Samuel Phillips Law Firm (email@example.com).
Robert Gibson is Partner and Head of Employment Law, Samuel Phillips Law Firm
Tel 0191 2550 212 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Samuel Phillips Law Firm
52 Westgate Road
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Tel: (0191) 232 8451
Fax: (0191) 232 7664
The firm has wide experience in dealing with:
Lexcel Accredited & Investors In People