Disciplinary policy and procedure
The purpose of this process is to encourage all employees to achieve and maintain appropriate standards of conduct, attendance and performance.
This policy applies to all employees at RoS.
- No disciplinary action will be taken until the matter has been properly investigated
- Allegations will be investigated promptly and facts established objectively and fairly
- Employees will be advised, in writing, of the allegation and have the right to state their case
- The process is transparent and the subject of the allegation will be provided with copies of the investigation report, including any witness statements
- Employees can be accompanied at all stages in the process by a trade union representative or work colleague, if they wish
- The disciplinary process should be consistently applied
- Employees have the right to appeal against a disciplinary decision
- If an employee is involved in or suspected of criminal activities committed either at work or outwith work then HR will review the situation. Any employee who is charged with an offence (excluding minor traffic offences) must report the facts as soon as possible to the HR department.
- All employees involved in the investigatory or disciplinary processes must maintain confidentiality
Fact finding investigation
Prior to any formal disciplinary hearing being held, the facts must be clearly established. This will usually be undertaken by the employee's immediate line manager.
When investigating a disciplinary matter the employee should be dealt with in a fair and reasonable manner. The nature and extent of the investigation will depend on the seriousness of the matter and the more serious it is then the more thorough the investigation should be. It is important to keep an open mind and confine the investigation process to establishing the facts. It is not always necessary to hold an investigatory meeting, however, if a meeting is required, the employee should be given reasonable advance warning and time to prepare. The employee may be accompanied by a trade union representative or colleague at this meeting. It is important that disciplinary action is not considered at an investigatory meeting.
If it becomes apparent that formal disciplinary action may be needed then this should be dealt with at a formal hearing at which the employee will have the statutory right to be accompanied.
Before the hearing
The employee will be advised promptly, in writing, that they are required to attend a disciplinary hearing. The letter will provide details of:
- the date, time and location of the hearing
- the allegation(s) and enclose any documentation that may be referred to during the hearing, including any witness statements
- the employee's right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague, if they wish
Employees will be given reasonable notice of the hearing to allow them to prepare their case.
Managers and trade union representatives (where appropriate) are encouraged to liaise and coordinate diaries when arranging a hearing to ensure that matters are progressed quickly and with the minimum of delay.
The purpose of the hearing is for management to present their case (the investigating officer), and for the employee to be given the opportunity to respond, stating theirs.
The hearing will be chaired by an appropriate manager who will be the deciding officer. This is usually the manager of the investigating officer. Their role is to listen to both parties, asking questions and seeking clarification where necessary, prior to making a decision based on all of the facts available.
In the event that an employee is unable, or fails, to attend a hearing it may be rescheduled or proceed in their absence at the discretion of the deciding officer. In such cases, the deciding officer may consider written submissions or representation by a colleague or trade union representative.
Where possible, the investigating officer should not undertake the role of deciding officer.
Employees are entitled to be accompanied at the disciplinary hearing by a trade union representative or work colleague. The companion has the right to address the hearing, sum up the employee's case and confer privately with the employee during the hearing. They are not entitled to respond to questions on the employee's behalf.
Both management and employee may call witnesses and should inform the other party who they are calling in advance of the hearing. The deciding officer, management and employee will be able to ask questions of any witnesses called.
The hearing may be adjourned by the deciding officer in order to consider the facts and, where appropriate, to request further investigation if new information has come to light.
After the hearing
The deciding officer will assess all relevant evidence and, following an adjournment, may be able to give a decision orally at the end of the hearing, which will be confirmed in writing. Dependant on the complexity of the case the deciding officer may be unable to reach a decision on the same day but will do so as quickly as possible. If the decision is delayed for any reason, the employee will be advised.
No case to answer
The employee will be advised that the allegation is unfounded and there is no case to answer.
No formal action
The employee will be informed that following the disciplinary hearing no further formal action is to be taken. An outcome of the hearing may be that a training need has been identified and any gaps in knowledge/skill will be addressed appropriately.
First written warning
A first written warning will be issued if conduct or attendance does not meet acceptable standards. This will be in writing and detail the nature of the problem, the improvement required and the timescale. The letter will advise of the right of appeal. The warning will also inform the employee that a final written warning may be considered if there is no sustained satisfactory improvement or change. A first written warning will remain 'live' on file for 12 months.
Final written warning
A final written warning will be issued if the conduct concerned is of a sufficiently serious nature or where there has been a continuation of misconduct. Employees will be informed of this decision in writing, detailing the misconduct, the improvement required and the timescale. The letter will advise of their right of appeal and will also warn that failure to improve may lead to dismissal. Final written warnings will remain live for 12 months.
Action short of dismissal
The deciding officer may consider punitive action, in addition to a final written warning, where the misconduct is sufficiently serious. Actions are:
- suspension without pay (maximum 14 calendar days)
- withholding an annual pay award
- restitution for damage caused to RoS property, equipment or services
Dismissal (with notice)
The decision to dismiss will not be taken lightly and will occur if there is a further disciplinary issue within a 'live' final written warning. The employee will be notified of this decision in writing, detailing the reason/s for dismissal, the date on which the employment will terminate, and the right of appeal.
Summary dismissal (without notice)
An employee may be dismissed without notice if it is established following investigation and a disciplinary hearing that there has been an act of gross misconduct. Gross misconduct is misconduct which is viewed as serious enough to invalidate the employment contract between the employer and the employee, making any further working relationship and trust impossible. The employee will be notified of this decision in writing and of their right to appeal.
Employees have the right to appeal against disciplinary action being taken against them. The appeal will be held by an appropriate manager, where possible one management grade above the deciding officer.
The appeal must be in writing and submitted within 10 working days of the date of the decision letter. The appeal must detail the reason for appeal i.e. the decision to discipline was unfair and why; the level of action taken was too severe and why. If the employee wishes to present additional new evidence to support their case, then this must be provided to the appeals chair at least two working days in advance of the appeal hearing.
The employee will be notified in writing of the proposed date, time and location of the appeal hearing and of their right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague. If their chosen companion is unable to attend on the proposed date, then the employee is entitled to request a postponement. The rearranged date should be within 5 working days of the initial date proposed.
In the event that an employee is unable to attend the appeal hearing, it may be rescheduled at the discretion of the appeal officer. If an employee is unable to attend the rescheduled appeal hearing it is likely that the appeal hearing will go ahead in their absence and a decision made based on the facts available.
Both the employer and employee have the right to call witnesses and should inform the other party in writing who they intend to call and of their relevance to the allegation in advance of the hearing date.
At the appeal hearing the employee will be asked to present their case to the appeal officer. The hearing will be adjourned to allow consideration to be given to all the facts and circumstances prior to a decision being made. The employee will be notified in writing of the decision, normally within 10 working days of the appeal hearing. For all disciplinary action short of dismissal this decision will be final.
Examples of gross misconduct
The following list is provided for guidance only, and is not exhaustive:
- theft or fraud
- forgery or falsification of documents
- physical violence or bullying
- deliberate and serious damage to RoS property
- serious misuse of RoS property or name
- deliberately accessing internet sites containing pornographic, offensive or obscene material
- serious insubordination
- unlawful discrimination or harassment
- bringing the organisation into serious disrepute
- serious incapability at work brought on by alcohol or drugs
- causing loss, damage or injury through serious negligence
- a serious breach of health and safety rules
- a serious breach of trust and confidence