The five things you should know about disciplining an employee

1. The first question you need to ask yourself is why you want to discipline this employee. There needs to be a very clear reason and sound evidence to discipline any employee. Before making such an important decision, it is best to check with an HR or Legal professional as to whether your reasoning for the disciplinary action would be deemed reasonable in the eyes of the law.

2. Although employees with less than two years service can be dismissed fairly easily and without any legal comeback, you should think carefully before dismissing an employee in this way. As a responsible employer, who wants to attract the best quality of employees’ to their business, dismissing someone without following a fair procedure, could damage your reputation; not just as an employer but with your suppliers and customers too. They say that when something has gone wrong, people are more likely to tell 7 other people about their bad experience, so word of mouth from an aggrieved employee can damage your reputation and your business.

3. Once you have a clear reason and sound evidence to discipline an employee, you need to ensure that you follow a fair disciplinary process. A fair Disciplinary Process should include an investigation into what’s happened, a Disciplinary meeting to allow the employee to have their say and at which meeting the employee has the right to be accompanied by an employee companion, and then an outcome. The outcome can vary from no action to be taken at all, right up to dismissal depending on the severity of the action/s of the employee. The process should also include the right of appeal against any formal disciplinary sanction made against an employee.

4. Does your business have a written Disciplinary Process that employees are, or have been made aware of? If so, then it is very important that you follow this process. If not, then you need to ask a professional to help you write a Disciplinary Process that meets ACAS guidelines and Employment Legislation and then publish it to your employees.

5. At any Disciplinary meeting, it is important that you take professional advice about how to conduct yourself and that you plan and prepare for them just like you would for any other important business meeting. It is also advisable that you have a second person in the meeting/s to make notes and ensure the Company Disciplinary Process is followed and is fair and reasonable. The Disciplinary meeting is the employee’s opportunity to state their case and give any mitigating reasons for their behaviour or actions. Depending on what you hear, the seriousness of their actions and their record to date will determine what Disciplinary sanction you will apply.

Although employees with less than two years service can be dismissed fairly easily and without any legal comeback, you should think carefully before dismissing an employee in this way. As a responsible employer, who wants to attract the best quality of employees’ to their business, dismissing someone without following a fair procedure, could damage your reputation; not just as an employer but with your suppliers and customers too. They say that when something has gone wrong, people are more likely to tell 7 other people about their bad experience, so word of mouth from an aggrieved employee can damage your reputation and your business

After any meeting of this nature, make sure the notes are written up that reflect what was discussed at the meeting and what disciplinary sanction has been applied to the employee. As a guideline, this letter should be sent to the employee within 48 hours of the meeting and should confirm what action has been imposed, how long the disciplinary action will remain on their file and what improvements need to be made and by when. If the letter is confirming their dismissal, it will need to outline the reasons for the dismissal, what date it takes effect from and outline what payments will be made to them (if any) upon their termination date. Again, it’s important that you seek professional help when writing a letter of this nature