Disciplinary procedures for employees

No one wants to think about disciplinary matters but you need to be fully aware of rules and the law. This guide talks you through step-by-step how to handle the disciplinary procedure.

  • Why it's legally important to have a clear disciplinary procedure
  • Implementing your disciplinary rules
  • The process
  • Unions and representatives
  • Dismissal

Why it's legally important to have a clear disciplinary procedure

Employment law is strict and you must adhere to it. Long gone are the days when you could handle disciplinary matters on your own. Ignore the law and you could find yourself a tribunal being sued for unfair dismissal and dishing out a lot of cash in compensation.  Familiarising yourself with the law and disciplinary procedure will make it easier to follow should you need to.

  • Make sure you are aware of the employment law
  • Ensure you are up to date with any amendments

Implementing your disciplinary rules

Setting out your disciplinary rules is just as important as following the legal procedure. You need to make sure that employees are aware of your specific rules as they may differ from previous employers they've worked for.  It covers both you and the employee as it means you both know exactly what is expected of them and why they would face disciplinary action should they break one of these rules. You should set these out in your employer/employee contract.

  • Ensure your employee is aware of your disciplinary rules
  • Make sure the rules are set out in the employee contract

The process

It's essential you follow a formal three step process when starting disciplinary action. If you miss one or fail to comply with them all fully, an employee, whatever they have done wrong, stand a good chance of winning at a tribunal.

  • Firstly, you must send your employee a written letter stating why you have decided to start the disciplinary process.
  • The next step is a meeting with the employee to discuss the reason you're taking disciplinary action against them. They are legally allowed to attend the meeting with a representative from a union or a colleague. The employee is allowed to answer any points made against them. You must then explain your decision and tell the employee they have a right to appeal.
  • At the appeal, the employee is entitled to have a representative present. It's also a good idea for you to have someone with you representing your side. After the appeal is over you then give your employee your final decision.

Unions and  representatives

It's more than likely you'll come into contact with unions and other employee representatives when handling a disciplinary case.  You must allow your employees to join a union and it's in your best interest that you keep up to speed with what they do and how they do it. Employee representatives are colleagues, usually who have been nominated by their peers to represent the workforce. In the absence of union representation, it is an employee representative that will be present at any disciplinary meeting. Make sure you employee representatives up to speed with any changes to your disciplinary rules.

  • Keep up to speed with union news
  • Make sure any employee representatives are aware of changes to your disciplinary rules.


Unless there is a very good reason, no one really wants to go through the dismissal process. However, if you need to it's essential you follow procedure to the letter to avoid any repercussions. You will need to make sure you are fully aware of how you pay notice period, when you can tell the employee to leave and how to get company property back from them.

  • Get up  to speed with dismissal procedure
  • Keep employees informed throughout the dismissal procedure

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