ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures

Following the Dispute Resolution Review (DRR) the Government changed the way we deal with problems at work by repealing the widely criticised statutory disciplinary and grievance procedures. In 2009 they were superseded by the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, issued under section 207 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. To accompany the new Code, ACAS also produced a new non-statutory guide which provides information on handling discipline and grievance solutions in the workplace.

Disciplinary and grievance procedures are frameworks which provide clear and transparent structures for dealing with difficulties which may arise as part of the working relationship from either the employer’s or employee’s perspective.

They are necessary to ensure that everybody is treated in the same way in similar circumstances, to ensure issues are dealt with fairly and reasonably, and that employers are compliant with current legislation and follow the ACAS Code of Practice for handling disciplinary and grievance issues and are needed to:

• act as a point of reference for an employment tribunal should someone make a complaint about the way they have been dismissed

• enable employers and employees to agree suitable goals and timescales for improvement in an individual’s performance or conduct

• identify obstacles to individuals achieving the required standards (for example training needs, lack of clarity of job requirements, additional support needed) and to enable employers to take appropriate action

• let employees know what is expected of them in terms of standards of performance or conduct (and the likely consequences of continued failure to meet these standards)

• try to resolve matters without recourse to an employment tribunal claim

Grievance procedures are needed to:

• provide individuals with a course of action if they have a complaint (which they are unable to resolve through regular communication with their line manager)

• provide points of contact and timescales to resolve issues of concern

• try to resolve matters without recourse to an employment tribunal

Disciplinary and grievance procedures under the ACAS Code suggest parties should rather than must act in a certain way. A dismissal will no longer be found to have been an automatically unfair dismissal if the employer does not follow the procedure. However, Employment Tribunals ruling on individual cases can:

• Increase employment tribunal compensation by up to 25 per cent where the employer has ‘unreasonably’ failed to follow the ACAS Code for a disciplinary or a grievance

• Reduce compensation by up to 25 per cent where the employee has ‘unreasonably’ failed to follow the ACAS Code when carrying out employment disciplinary procedures or handling a grievance

if you’re an employer,don’t risk being caught out by getting the disciplinary and grievance procedure wrong – if you’re not sure what procedure you should follow contact our specialist employment tribunal solicitors on 0800 1404544 for free initial phone advice -it might be all you need to put your mind to rest.