Handling employee disciplinary and grievance procedures

Disciplinary and grievances

Many potential disciplinary or grievance issues can be resolved informally by simply having a quite word with the relevant employee.

However, where an in issue cannot be resolved in this manner, it will need to be pursued formally.

Disciplinary and grievance issues can be a major burden on organisations due to the time they take up, the disruption they cause and the negative effect they can have on other employees.

Employee Disciplinary and Grievance

Disciplinary procedure

It is essential to have the right procedures in place to deal with these matters as without them you could end up before an employment tribunal facing claims of unfair or constructive dismissal and even discrimination.

Disciplinary and grievances should be dealt with promptly and fairly in order to prevent them from becoming major issues in your workplace.

Disciplinary procedure documentation

All organisations regardless of their size or sector must confirm in writing to their employees the disciplinary rules which are applicable to them.

This is usually done at the start of employment and is incorporated into the statement of terms and conditions of employment. Most organisations have an employee handbook which employees are referred to when they begin employment.

Statutory minimum procedures for disciplinary procedures

There are certain minimum requirements which must be incorporated into an organisations disciplinary procedure known as the “statutory minimum procedures”.  The following steps must be taken in order to avoid claims of unfair dismissal:

  • A letter must be sent/given to the employee setting out the reasons why disciplinary action is being considered
  • A meeting to discuss the issues
  • A decision on the outcome of the disciplinary meeting
  • An opportunity to appeal the decision

Legally required structures for disciplinary procedures

There is no legally required structure for a disciplinary procedure and an organisation should devise one in accordance with their needs.

Some organisations prefer a 3-4 stage procedure prior to dismissal whereas other prefer a shorter process.

ACAS code of practice on disciplinary and grievances

You should ensure that whichever procedure is adopted it follows the ACAS code of practice on disciplinary and grievances as failing to do so can increase an awards by 25% where a claimant is successful at an employment tribunal.


Can an employee be accompanied at a disciplinary hearing?

Employees have the right to be accompanied at any formal disciplinary hearing either by a work colleague or a trade union official but must notify you in advance of their intention to do so.


If the chosen companion is not available at the proposed time of the hearing then the employee can make a request within 5 working days for an alternative date or time.

Rights of the companion

At the hearing the companion may at the request of the employee:

  • Speak on the employees behalf and put forward their case
  • Confer with the employee during the hearing
  • Respond to any views expressed on behalf of the employee but not answer questions for them

A full record should be kept of all hearings and held confidentially in case further issues arise in the future.

Grievance procedure

A grievance is a concern, problem or complaint made by an employee to their organisation.

Grievances typically relate to areas such as disagreements with co-employees; discrimination, bullying and harassment, health and safety and terms and conditions of employment.

ACAS Code of practice on grievance procedures

It is a legal requirement for organisations to have a grievance procedure which should be in writing and communicated to all employees.

The procedure itself must also be followed properly and fairly, and should take into account the guidance set out in the ACAS code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures.

Failing to follow your own grievance procedure can result in an employee bringing a claim of constructive or unfair dismissal.

Statutory minimum requirements on grievance procedures

An organisation should incorporate the statutory minimum requirements into their grievance procedures and give the following information:

  • Who the employee should contact about a grievance
  • How to contact this person
  • Say that if the problem can’t be resolved informally, there will be a meeting with the employee, called a grievance hearing
  • Set out time limits for each stage of the process
  • Identify who to contact if the normal contact person is involved in the grievance
  • Explain how to appeal a grievance decision
  • State that employees can be accompanied in any meetings by a colleague or union representative
  • Outline what happens if a grievance is raised during disciplinary action

Organisations must be extremely careful in the way they handle grievances as failing to do so can easily result in a matter being taken to an employment tribunal.

Employee Disciplinary and Grievance

How we can help

PeoplepointHR’s team of professional HR consultants and employment law specialists can provide you with the appropriate level of support ensuring that your organisation can handle any work related disputes in a timely and effective manner.

We can assist you with:

  • Reviewing your current disciplinary, grievance and dismissal procedures if any, and ensure that they are legally compliant
  • Drafting and implementing new procedures to meet the needs of your organisation
  • Handle or support you through all the stages involved in disciplinary hearings including investigations, hearings and appeals on site
  • Training your current managers and provide them with coaching and tactical guidance on all aspects of dispute resolution including cases of bullying, harassment and untenable working situations
  • Drafting of any associated paperwork including the drafting of legal documents such as settlement agreements

Contact PeoplePointHR today on 0330 555 2555.