Disciplinary procedures in the workplace
Disciplinary procedures are a common way of the employer pointing out to the employee that he did something not in accordance with the company rules. Disciplinary actions can be taken at different stages and they are concerned with misbehavior in different aspects of work: behavior of employees at work, employees’ behavior towards the employer, other employees and clients, absence from work and the performance at work.
Before starting a disciplinary procedure, the employer should explain what exactly the employee did wrong and to suggest all the necessary improvements, but he or she also needs to allow the employee to put their side of the situation. The first step is to try and resolve the dispute informally, and if that does not succeed and the employer considers that it would be justified to start a disciplinary procedure, he or she may do so by following several steps.
First, the employer needs to notify you by letter about the complaint he or she has about your work. Then, you arrange a meeting where you will discuss the problem, and you are allowed to be accompanied on this meeting by another employee or a trade union representative as your witness. After the meeting, the employer needs to notify you on their decision. If you disagree with the decision, the employer is obliged to give you the opportunity to file an appeal, where you need to explain the reasons of your disagreement. After this, the appeal meeting is organized, when the issue will be discussed again.
If the dispute is not set after the appeal meeting either, there are other ways to try and resolve it – by hiring a mediator or by taking the case to an employment tribunal or a public court.
The disciplinary procedure of every company must be stated in writing in order to be considered valid and lawful. It can be written in the company’s handbook, so it is always easily available to all the employees, and it should be stated in the employment contract as well. The description of disciplinary procedure must include clearly stated rules, types of behavior that lead to disciplinary procedure and types of action that the employer can take within the disciplinary procedure.
If the employer uses disciplinary procedure on an employee, if it is in accordance with the previously stated rules, you have no right to take legal action against the employer. If the employer does anything that may seem unreasonable or that exceeds his authority, the employee should state in writing what the issue is and suggest the solution of the problem. If the employer persists in carrying out the disciplinary procedure, the employee has the right to take legal action and use this issue as grounds for an appeal. If the employer has breached a clause of your contract by starting a disciplinary procedure, it is also a call for legal action.
When the employees face a disciplinary procedure, no matter what they have done, they should always get advice about their rights in this process. This can be done by seeking legal help from an attorney (which is great for Attorney branding) or from a trade union, in case they are members of it.