Eight Major Disciplinary Mistakes To Avoid

    Unfortunately, in most businesses there will come a time when an employee misbehaves or breaks the code of conduct set by your business.

    When this occurs, it must be treated in accordance with your policy on discipline and within the ACAS code of practice.

    If you do not go through your disciplinary procedure correctly, then you could see yourself facing an unfair dismissal claim.

    But where does it commonly go wrong for employers?

    Here are the eight most common mistakes to avoid when taking disciplinary action…

    Not being clear about the nature of the allegations

    It’s important to clearly set out the exact allegations against the employee so that they understand why they are being disciplined. This gives them a fair opportunity to prepare for the hearing.

    If any new allegations come to light during the investigation then these should also be addressed.

    Not warning the employee of the potential outcome of their disciplinary action

    The employee must be made aware of the possible consequences of the disciplinary action from the outset so that it does not come as surprise if dismissal is the result.

    Not only does it give them a chance to prepare for the case appropriately, but it also gives them fair warning that they may need to find new employment.

    Not allowing the employee to be accompanied to their hearing

    It is a statutory right for the employee to be accompanied to their hearing if a reasonable request is made prior to the hearing.

    Having the same person deal with the whole disciplinary process

    Ideally, a different person should be responsible for dealing with the investigation, disciplinary and appeal stage of the procedure, though this may not be possible for a smaller business.

    The reason for this is to avoid any accusations of biased against the employee so if there is only one person able to deal with the whole process, they should do so with an open mind.

    Not keeping an accurate and comprehensive record of the proceedings

    Without a full written record of the disciplinary process, it can be easy for an employee to challenge the meetings later. So, for your own protection, it’s important that you accurately record and store each step of the proceedings.

    Relying on evidence from one source

    One person’s evidence may be enough to warrant disciplinary action towards an employee; however, it is always important to try and further support your case with more evidence.

    There are many obvious problems attached to relying solely on evidence from one source such as biased, so strengthen your case with corroborative evidence.

    Not using a system of warnings where appropriate

    For a very serious offence, it may be justified to dismiss the employee immediately.

    However, for a minor offence, it is more appropriate to provide the employee with multiple warnings before reaching the decision to dismiss them.

    This is down to the employer to decide how many warnings they will provide, and in what form, before a more serious course of action is taken – this should be included in the employee handbooks.


    Delays in the disciplinary proceedings will not go down well at a tribunal and they should usually be dealt with in a few weeks depending on the complexity of the case.

    To find out more about how to handle disciplinary action, or for support writing up your disciplinary policy, call us on 0845 2626 260 for a free consultation.

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