Why your business should have a disciplinary policy

by Direct 2 Lawyers on September 14, 2012

  • SumoMe

Businesses expect a certain level of conduct and performance in return for paying their employees for their work. If the employee falls to reasonably live up to the standards set by their employer then they may find that they are disciplined for failing to do so. There are two ways that an employee can be disciplined: informally or formally. It is recommended that, whenever possible, the route of an informal disciplinary procedure is followed – the employee’s line manager sits down with them and explains why they are being disciplined and how the employee should improve their conduct or performance. However, if the employee’s conduct or lack of performance is severe enough to warrant a formal disciplinary then the employee should be aware of what the rules relating to disciplinaries in your business are. This will normally require the use of a written disciplinary policy.

  1. Why your business should have a disciplinary policy
  2. How to use the disciplinary policy
  3. Potential consequences of failing to have an adequate disciplinary policy

What the disciplinary policy should cover

Although it is impossible to cover everything that might warrant disciplinary action you should have rules in the disciplinary policy that relate to:

  1. Absence in the workplace
  2. Health and safety in the workplace
  3. The occurrence of discrimination and harassment
  4. The performance standards that are required
  5. How company facilities and equipment should be used
  6. What types of conduct may be deemed gross misconduct

These disciplinary rules should be made easily available to employees and should ideally be provided to the employee during their induction process.

Why your business should have a written disciplinary policy

If your business doesn’t have a disciplinary policy then you experience legal difficulties in the future. Disciplinary rules are key to:

  1. Conducting disciplinaries fairly
  2. Dismissing employees fairly

How to use the disciplinary policy

You can download a copy of a disciplinary policy template here. Complete the disciplinary policy template by filling in the necessary information. It can’t be stressed enough that each disciplinary policy should be tailored to the specific needs of the business – there’s no “one size fits all” approach. Once you have completed the disciplinary template then you should make it easily available for employees to access, for example by placing it on the company intranet or including it with the staff handbook. The disciplinary policy should also be reviewed periodically to account for changes in workplace practices and employment law. Any changes to the disciplinary policy should be provided to employees within a reasonable time frame.

Potential consequences of failing to have an adequate disciplinary policy

If your business fails to implement a disciplinary policy, fails to adequately draft the disciplinary policy or fails to comply with its own disciplinary policy then it may be opening itself up to discrimination or unfair dismissal claims. These are unpleasant both because of the investment of time and money that they entail. The best way to avoid such problems is by properly drafting, implementing and following a disciplinary policy.

Direct 2 Lawyers offer free employment law advice for employers and free employment law advice for employees. The specialist employment solicitors that they use offer Employment Tribunal representation and compromise agreement advice.

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