Setting up a disciplinary procedure - checklist

Manager taking notes across desk from employee

You need to have clear rules outlining what will happen if employees commit an offence in the workplace. Our checklist tells you what to include.

  • Contact Acas for their Code of Practice. Your procedures must be fair and transparent and must not discriminate.
  • Put your procedures in writing and communicate them to all employees, for example, through a handbook. Ensure they understand the rules and their rights.
  • Identify what issues your disciplinary procedure needs to cover such as work performance, theft, discriminatory, offensive or inappropriate behaviour.
  • Classify offences: minor offences, repeated minor offences, misconduct and gross misconduct are the most commonly used categories.
  • Provide examples of misconduct; do not try to produce an exhaustive list or be too specific if the offence can be a matter of degree.
  • Describe offences constituting gross misconduct, meriting dismissal. Consider whether an employment tribunal would agree with you.
  • Set up a series of warning steps for offenders: for example, oral warning for minor offences, written warning, final written warning and ultimately dismissal.
  • Set up a procedure for holding formal disciplinary interviews; decide who will have the authority to hold meetings and take disciplinary action.
  • Follow your procedures. Take informal action where possible. Where formal action is required, explain in writing what the problem is, arrange a face-to-face meeting to discuss the problem and allow for an appeal if the employee is unhappy with the outcome.
  • Reserve the right to enter the procedure at a level justified by the severity of the offence (eg an immediate final warning for serious misconduct).
  • Investigate the circumstances before dismissing a member of staff - even in the case of gross misconduct.
  • Set timescales for the stages of the disciplinary process, allowing time for improvements before issuing further warnings.
  • Decide on a record-keeping system and how long warnings will remain in effect before they lapse.
  • Ensure that your procedure respects employees' rights: for example, to be accompanied by a colleague at a hearing and to be treated fairly.
  • Train managers; stress the need to be fair and consistent and to keep written records.
  • Continue to use informal warnings to handle one-off minor offences.

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