An employer is obliged to provide an employee within two months of commencing employment with written details of the disciplinary and grievance procedures that will be operated with respect to him/her. The employer must either give a document to the employee with the details, or alternatively inform him/her where and how he/she may see a copy of those procedures.
It is important that all businesses have set procedures that will be adopted in disciplinary matters. This assists a careful and considered approach to dealing with under-performing employees or instances of misconduct. It will help a Tribunal in considering the fairness of a dismissal in the event of any claim being made against the employer. It is important the employer operates a standard, well defined procedure, which allows flexibility in unusual cases, to maintain a fair approach, and thus reduce the risk of unfair dismissal claims.
The procedures need to be carefully worded, to produce a fair system which is appropriate to the needs and circumstances of the business. A study published by the DTI in July 1998 highlighted that the most common reason for employers losing cases of unfair dismissal was for procedural irregularities. It pays to follow the proper procedure every time. Time spent in preparation of comprehensive procedures should reduce litigation costs in the future.