08 November 2023

Are you following the correct employment procedures?

Employer and employee meeting

Tribunal claims can be time-consuming, complex, and expensive for businesses.

That’s why we want employers to ensure that, when dealing with any sort of disciplinary, capability, or grievance matter in the workplace, they are following the correct procedures and have the appropriate policies in place.

When is a dismissal fair?

There are five potential reasons why a dismissal may be fair. These are:

  • Issues with conduct

  • Capability

  • Redundancy

  • Breach of a statutory restriction

  • Some other substantial reason

However, regardless of whether an employer can prove a dismissal was for one of the above potentially fair reasons, an employment tribunal may still find that a dismissal was unfair if they haven’t followed a fair procedure. The test that the tribunal applies is a two-stage test and even if a fair reason has been established, an employer can lose at the tribunal if its procedures fall short.

How can you prevent claims for unfair dismissal cases?

1. Documentation

You should ensure that you have a well-drafted employment contract in place for all employees, alongside a full set of comprehensive workplace policies that cover any potential disciplinary, capability or grievance matter.

These policies should be drafted in line with the Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures, which is the minimum standard that all employers are expected to follow. The policies and procedures should be accessible for all and easy to understand.

2. Training

You should ensure that your managers have full knowledge of the above procedures and policies. They must also be properly trained to implement these at any given time.

If a manager fails to deal with a disciplinary, capability, or grievance issue in a procedurally compliant manner, it is the employer who will be liable for any unfair claim resulting from an employment tribunal (not the individual manager).

3. Do not delay

Employers should react promptly to address concerns and nip issues in the bud. Acas encourages informal resolution at an early stage. This will hopefully stop the issues from escalating and, if not, early interception should at least ensure that a prompt process is followed.

Managers often avoid difficult conversations and this reluctance to deal with issues, often causes further problems and can result in the relationship breaking down. Promptness is key here.

4. Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork

It is important to have the evidence to show that discussions took place and that employees knew what the issues were and could respond to them.  Managers are often busy doing their day-to-day jobs and it's very easy to forget key facts at a later date 

A written note of any conversations and issues can help jog the memory should the matter process to a formal process and can also help remind the manager to follow up on previous issues.

5. Contact our specialist team

If you need help dealing with a disciplinary or grievance issue in the workplace, be sure to contact our experienced employment law solicitors. We offer a variety of services, including a 24/7 HR advice line and regular Adapt Training events, designed to help you prevent employment claims.

Our specialist team can also carry out on-site line management training which will provide your managers with the tools to tackle issues promptly and effectively.

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Need help?

Contact Katie to discuss this further.

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