So an employee has not responded to the guidance you have provided in managing their performance. Whether it’s conduct or capability, for example, attendance, behaviours or they have breached a policy where further investigation is required, it’s crucial to follow your disciplinary process. Failure to follow a fair disciplinary process could lead to employment tribunals in the case of unfair dismissal; which can lead to stress and financial loss. This in mind, this blog will address some of the ways in which you can conduct employee discipline in the best possible way.

At some time in your managerial or business ownership career, you will need to invoke the disciplinary process. I don’t think it’s a task we enjoy, but if you have to, then you must do it right to avoid potentially costly repercussions. The devil is in the detail! Many business owners are afraid to take the step to discipline employees, whilst others are almost content to say ‘you’re fired’ and await the consequences. The good news is there is a middle ground and managed effectively you can see an improvement in people’s conduct or ability to achieve a win win situation.

When & why do you need to discipline your employees?

‘Discipline isn’t a matter of dominance and punishment. It’s about making the work environment safe and pleasant for everyone, both employees and management.’ wheniwork.com

Managers can sometimes worry about coming down too hard on employees, or, in contrast, letting them get away with too much. Disregarding too much can lead to a lack in productivity and employee engagement; e.g. if one employee is continuously late and gets away with it, other employees may follow suit. On the other hand, being controlling and asserting your power without trying to understand individual situations can be equally as bad. It is important to find a healthy balance in your workplace and to know when to draw the line with unacceptable employee behaviour. This is where policies and procedures come into play.

Policies and procedures:

It is vital that your organisation has fair and clear policies and procedures in place. All new and existing employees should be thoroughly informed on these from the time of employment. When it comes to discipline, there are a number of things that you need to cover. Detail the actions that would be followed; from informal meetings and written warnings, to dismissals. Your policy should also include clear information on what would lead to disciplinary action being taken. This is specific to your organisation and what kind of behaviour you deem as unacceptable. Consider your business’ morals, being sure to set clear guidelines on what would constitute as gross misconduct. Furthermore, specify what behaviour could lead to instant dismissal.

If you are creating a new policy, we strongly suggest reading the following.

ACAS Code:

A strong basis for your disciplinary policies is the ACAS Code of Practice (2009). Whilst not essential by law, following this code will help you to ensure that your business’ policies and procedures are up to date, fair and transparent and will help protect your organisation.

‘Not following the code isn’t illegal. However, if someone wins an employment tribunal against you and you didn’t follow the code, then their award could be up to 25% more.’ gov.uk

For more information on the ACAS Code, visit gov.uk.

Track & Record:

Whilst undergoing disciplinary action, you should keep records of what is going on. Track as much detail as you can; from dates of informal meetings, copies of correspondence (e.g. emails etc.) or written warnings and any other information. Whilst this may sound over the top, the benefits of keeping detailed records truly outweigh the time consumption. Keeping track can assist any future decision making and can also serve as evidence should the case be taken to a tribunal.

How Triple Three Solutions can help:

Disciplinary action can be time-consuming and require a lot of dedication. Managers must keep up to date with laws and regulations. Here at Triple Three Solutions, we can give you the best HR Advice for your policies and procedures and get your business ready to address the difficult situation of disciplining employees.

For more information on how Triple Three Solutions can help, or for more advice on HR issues, please get in touch. Give our HR Consultants a call on 0333 050 3330 or contact us via email at lisa@triplethreesolutions.co.uk.