Disciplinary Procedure

 

1          Disciplinary Procedure for Umbrella Employees

1.1        Purpose & Scope

1.1.1     This procedure is designed to help and encourage all employees to achieve and maintain standards of conduct, attendance and job performance. It is the Company's responsibility to ensure that disciplinary practices and procedures are effective, fair, well understood and consistently applied.  Proper procedures are an aid to good management and should not be viewed primarily as a means of imposing a disciplinary penalty or necessarily leading to dismissal. This procedure applies to all employees unless otherwise stated in their Terms and Conditions of Employment.

1.1.2     It is the duty of all employees to ensure familiarity with these, and to observe them fully.  With this in mind, the Company is hopeful that the employee and his/her immediate manager will normally be able to resolve any shortfalls in work performance or behavior standards by discussions, which would identify problem areas and determine an action plan.

1.1.3     An immediate manager may, however, decide that the evidence of a particular case may call for implementing an appropriate part of the Company's Disciplinary Procedure.

1.2        Disciplinary Regulations and Reasons for Dismissal

1.2.1     The rules and reasons listed here are the main occurrences, which will give rise to the disciplinary measures.  These rules apply to all employees, but each case will be considered carefully on its own merits and the prevailing circumstances.

1.2.2     The lists provided below of minor, serious, major and extreme disciplinary situations are not exhaustive and are not intended to be so. The categories of misconduct and gross misconduct are not absolute; the seriousness of a particular breach of discipline will depend on the circumstances of the case. The category of major misconduct lies between the two. It allows for stronger disciplinary action to be taken against acts that might normally fall into the category of minor or serious misconduct, but there is evidence of extreme carelessness or substantial effect on operations or reputation. Conversely, offences that might normally fall into the more serious category of extreme misconduct, can, if there is clear mitigation, be considered as major or serious misconduct allowing an award for the offence that falls short of dismissal.

1.3        Minor Disciplinary Situations

1.3.1     The following will normally be treated informally at first, but repeated occurrences will justify the formal warning procedure:

  • Unexcused lateness.
  • Excessive break times.
  • Careless behavior.
  • Failure to wear suitable clothes or present a suitable appearance and image.
  • Unexcused absence or failure to notify the Company correctly.
  • Failure to observe instructions or follow agreed procedures or policies.

1.4        Serious Disciplinary Situations

1.4.1     The following will normally be treated formally, with sanctions depending upon severity:

  • Unexcused absence without notification.
  • Excessive absence (not certified sickness) with or without notification.
  • Committing a series of unsatisfactory actions within a short period of time.
  • Failure to observe Health and Safety rules.
  • Performing work other than for the Company during paid time.
  • Preventing another employee from carrying out his or her duties effectively.
  • Working in unauthorised areas.
  • Damage to Company property.
  • Failure to report an accident or dangerous occurrence at work.

1.5        Major Disciplinary Situations

1.5.1     For these situations, the severity of disciplinary action will depend on the circumstances. These situations are very likely to be treated as very severe and may result in dismissal.

  • Deliberate refusal to carry out a legitimate job instruction.
  • Disorderly conduct on the premises.
  • Gross negligence.
  • Use of abusive or offensive language or behavior.
  • Breach of confidence/Company security or confidentiality.

1.6        Extreme Disciplinary Situations

1.6.1     The following are examples of circumstances which will be treated as gross misconduct and which are serious enough to justify summary dismissal for gross misconduct:

  • Unauthorised possession or use of Company property or money belonging to the Company, to other employees or to members of the public. The value of the money or the property will have no effect on the disciplinary action but may influence decisions about legal proceedings.
  • Falsification, including deliberate omissions of Company records or procedures where this results in material gain to the employee (e.g. bonus figures, weekly/monthly figures, subsistence and expense claims).
  • Use of alcohol or drugs or unauthorised possession of drugs whilst on Company premises or in working time.
  • Conviction or arrest on a serious criminal or civil charge which affects the employee's ability/acceptability to remain in employment or where the offence has occurred on Company premises. This includes loss of driving license through excessive alcohol, dangerous driving or speeding offences.
  • Use of violence towards other persons or property, or destruction or abuse of machinery or equipment.
  • Deliberate contravention of Health and Safety regulations, especially where this involves smoking in unauthorised places where this is a serious fire hazard.
  • Unauthorised disclosure of highly confidential matters.
  • Gross negligence or extremely irresponsible behaviour.
  • Unauthorised possession of an offensive weapon.
  • Breach of Company IT and Digital Media policy.

 

1.7        Confidentiality

            Our aim is to deal with disciplinary matters sensitively and with due respect for the privacy of any individuals involved. All employees must treat as confidential any information communicated to them in connection with an investigation or disciplinary matter. You, and anyone accompanying you (including witnesses), must not make electronic recordings of any meetings or hearings conducted under this procedure. You will normally be told the names of any witnesses whose evidence is relevant to disciplinary proceedings against you, unless we believe that a witness's identity should remain confidential.

1.8        Investigations

1.8.1     The purpose of an investigation is for us to establish a fair and balanced view of the facts relating to any disciplinary allegations against you, before deciding whether to proceed with a disciplinary hearing. The amount of investigation required will depend on the nature of the allegations and will vary from case to case. It may involve interviewing and taking statements from you and any witnesses, and/or reviewing relevant documents. The Directors will usually appoint an Investigating Officer to carry out the investigation. Investigative interviews are solely for the purpose of fact-finding and no decision on disciplinary action will be taken until after a disciplinary hearing has been held.

1.8.2     You do not normally have the right to bring a companion to an investigative interview. However, we may allow you to bring a companion if it helps you to overcome any disability, or any difficulty in understanding English.

1.8.3     You must co-operate fully and promptly in any investigation. This will include informing us of the names of any relevant witnesses, disclosing any relevant documents to us and attending investigative interviews if required.

1.9        Criminal Charges

1.9.1     Where your conduct is the subject of a criminal investigation, charge or conviction we will investigate the facts before deciding whether to take formal disciplinary action.

1.9.2     We will not usually wait for the outcome of any prosecution before deciding what action, if any, to take. Where you are unable or have been advised not to attend a disciplinary hearing or say anything about a pending criminal matter, we may have to take a decision based on the available evidence.

1.9.3     A criminal investigation, charge or conviction relating to conduct outside work may be treated as a disciplinary matter if we consider that it is relevant to your employment.

1.10                  Suspension

1.10.1               In some circumstances we may need to suspend you from work. The suspension will be for no longer than is necessary to investigate the allegations and we will confirm the arrangements to you in writing. While suspended you should not visit our premises or contact any of our clients, customers, suppliers, contractors or staff, unless you have been authorised to do so by the Company.

1.10.2               Suspension of this kind is not a disciplinary penalty and does not imply that any decision has already been made about the allegations. You will, as appropriate, continue to receive pay and benefits during suspension as calculated in your contract.

 

1.11                  Notification of a Hearing

1.11.1               Following any investigation, if we consider there are grounds for disciplinary action, you will be required to attend a disciplinary hearing. We will inform you in writing of the allegations against you, the basis for those allegations, and what the likely range of consequences will be if we decide after the hearing that the allegations are true. We will also include the following where appropriate:

  • a summary of relevant information gathered during the investigation;
  • a copy of any relevant documents which will be used at the disciplinary hearing; and
  • a copy of any relevant witness statements, except where a witness's identity is to be kept confidential, in which case we will give you as much information as possible while maintaining confidentiality.

1.11.2               We will give you written notice of the date, time and place of the disciplinary hearing. The hearing will be held as soon as reasonably practicable, but you will be given a reasonable amount of time, usually two to seven days, to prepare your case based on the information we have given you.

1.12                  The Right To Be Accompanied

1.12.1               You may bring a companion to any disciplinary hearing or appeal hearing under this procedure. The companion may be either a trade union representative or a colleague. You must tell the Company who your chosen companion is, at least 7 days before the hearing, or, where this is not possible, as soon as practicable before the hearing.

1.12.2               A companion is allowed reasonable time off from duties without loss of pay but no-one is obliged to act as a companion if they do not wish to do so.

1.12.3               If your choice of companion is unreasonable we may require you to choose someone else, for example:

  • if in our opinion your companion may have a conflict of interest or may prejudice the hearing; or
  • if your companion works at another site and someone reasonably suitable is available at the site at which you work; or
  • if your companion is unavailable at the time a hearing is scheduled and will not be available for more than five working days.

1.12.4               We may, at our discretion, allow you to bring a companion who is not a colleague or union representative (for example, a member of your family) where this will help overcome a disability, or where you have difficulty understanding English.

1.13                  Procedure At Disciplinary Hearings

1.13.1               If you or your companion cannot attend the hearing you should inform us immediately and we will arrange an alternative time. You must make every effort to attend the hearing, and failure to attend without good reason may be treated as misconduct in itself. If you fail to attend without good reason, or are persistently unable to do so (for example for health reasons), we may have to take a decision based on the available evidence.

1.13.2               The hearing will be chaired by an appropriate manager. The Investigating Officer may also be present. You may bring a companion with you to the disciplinary hearing (see this policy for details).

1.13.3               At the disciplinary hearing we will go through the allegations against you and the evidence that has been gathered. You will be able to respond and present any evidence of your own. Your companion may make representations to us and ask questions, but should not answer questions on your behalf. You may confer privately with your companion at any time during the hearing.

1.13.4               You may ask relevant witnesses to appear at the hearing, provided you give us sufficient advance notice to arrange their attendance. You will be given the opportunity to respond to any information given by a witness.

1.13.5               However, you will not normally be permitted to cross-examine witnesses unless, in exceptional circumstances, we decide that a fair hearing could not be held otherwise.

1.13.6               We may adjourn the disciplinary hearing if we need to carry out any further investigations such as re-interviewing witnesses in the light of any new points you have raised at the hearing. You will be given a reasonable opportunity to consider any new information obtained before the hearing is reconvened.

1.13.7               We will inform you in writing of our decision and our reasons for it, usually within one week of the disciplinary hearing. Where possible we will also explain this information to you in person.

1.14                  Disciplinary Penalties

1.14.1               The usual penalties for misconduct are set out below. No penalty should be imposed without a hearing. We aim to treat all employees fairly and consistently, and a penalty imposed on another employee for similar misconduct will usually be taken into account but should not be treated as a precedent. Each case will be assessed on its own merits.

1.14.2               Stage 1 - Informal counseling discussion.  In cases where an employee has demonstrated minor or brief lapse in performance, their Manager will discuss the issue: agree with the employee the conduct/standard expected and a date for review.  Details of the discussion will be documented on the employee's personal history file.

1.14.3               Stage 2 - Verbal warning. If an employee's attendance, work performance or conduct does not meet acceptable standards, the employee will normally be given a verbal warning. He or she will be advised of the reason for the warning and that it is the first stage of the disciplinary procedure.  They will also be advised of the right to appeal. A note of the verbal warning will be held on an employee's personal file and will remain in force for 12 months, even if the specified time for improvement has passed.

1.14.4               Stage 3 - First written warning. A first written warning may be authorised by the Company. It will usually be appropriate for a first act of misconduct where there are no other active written warnings on your disciplinary record.

1.14.5               Stage 4 - Final written warning. A final written warning may be authorised by more senior management of the Company. It will usually be appropriate for:

  • misconduct where there is already an active written warning on your record; or
  • misconduct that we consider sufficiently serious to warrant a final written warning even though there are no other active warnings on your record.

1.14.6               Stage 5 - Dismissal. Dismissal may be authorised by senior management of the Company. It will usually only be appropriate for:

  • any misconduct during your probationary period;
  • further misconduct where there is an active final written warning on your record; or
  • any gross misconduct regardless of whether there are active warnings on your record.

1.14.7               Gross misconduct (as listed above) will usually result in immediate dismissal without notice or payment in lieu of notice (summary dismissal).

1.15                  Alternatives to dismissal

1.15.1               In some cases we may at our discretion consider alternatives to dismissal. These may be authorised by senior management and will usually be accompanied by a final written warning. Examples (and this list is not intended to be exhaustive) include:

  • Demotion;
  • Transfer to another department or job;
  • A period of suspension without pay;
  • Loss of seniority;
  • Reduction in pay;
  • Loss of future pay increment, bonus or commission; or

•·         Loss of overtime.

1.16                  The Effect Of A Warning

1.16.1               Written warnings will set out the nature of the misconduct, the change in behaviour required, the period for which the warning will remain active, and the likely consequences of further misconduct in that active period.

1.16.2               A verbal warning or first written warning will usually remain active for six months and a final written warning will usually remain active for 12 months.

1.16.2               In exceptional cases verging on gross misconduct, a final written warning may state that it will remain active indefinitely. Your conduct may be reviewed at the end of a warning's active period and if it has not improved sufficiently we may decide to extend the active period.

1.16.3               After the active period, the warning will remain permanently on your personnel file but will be disregarded in deciding the outcome of future disciplinary proceedings.

1.17                  Appeals Against Disciplinary Action

1.17.1               If you feel that disciplinary action taken against you is wrong or unjust, you should appeal in writing, stating your full grounds of appeal, to a Director of the Company within one week of the date on which you were informed of the decision.

1.17.2               If you are appealing against dismissal, the date on which dismissal takes effect will not be delayed pending the outcome of the appeal. However, if your appeal is successful you will be reinstated with no loss of continuity or pay.

1.17.3               If you raise any new matters in your appeal, we may need to carry out further investigation. If any new information comes to light we will provide you with a summary including, where appropriate, copies of additional relevant documents and witness statements. You will have a reasonable opportunity to consider this information before the hearing.

1.17.4               We will give you written notice of the date, time and place of the appeal hearing. This will normally be two to seven days after you receive the written notice.

1.17.5               The appeal hearing may be a complete re-hearing of the matter or it may be a review of the fairness of the original decision in the light of the procedure that was followed and any new information that may have come to light. This will be at our discretion depending on the circumstances of your case. In any event the appeal will be dealt with as impartially as possible.

1.17.6               Where possible, the appeal hearing will be conducted impartially by a more senior manager who has not been previously involved in the case. The Investigating Officer and/or the manager who conducted the disciplinary hearing may also usually be present. You may bring a companion with you to the appeal hearing (as stated earlier).

1.17.7               We may adjourn the appeal hearing if we need to carry out any further investigations in the light of any new points you have raised at the hearing. You will be given a reasonable opportunity to consider any new information obtained before the hearing is reconvened.

1.17.8               Following the appeal hearing we may:

  • confirm the original decision;
  • revoke the original decision; or
  • substitute a different penalty.

1.17.9               We will inform you in writing of our final decision as soon as possible, usually within one week of the appeal hearing. Where possible we will also explain this to you in person. There will be no further right of appeal.

1.18                  Overlapping disputes

                        Where an employee raises a grievance during a disciplinary process, the disciplinary process may be temporarily suspended in order to deal with the grievance. Where the grievance and disciplinary cases are related it may be appropriate to deal with both issues concurrently. Where such a situation occurs, advice should be sought from the Company.