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Disciplinary Policy Guide

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Disciplinary Policy 


The Company wishes to help and encourage employees to maintain an acceptable level of performance behaviour and acceptable standards of conduct. The aim of this policy is to provide a fair and consistent method of dealing with individual conduct and performance for the benefit and protection of all employees.

This procedure sets out the action which will be taken where conduct and/or performance falls below the necessary standards or where there has been a breach of any specific Company rule. 


  • This policy is for guidance only and does not form part of the contract of employment.
  • The Company may depart from this policy as appropriate in any particular case.
  • The Company reserves the right to vary this policy from time to time.
  • The Procedure is designed to establish the facts and to deal consistently with disciplinary issues. 
  • Disciplinary action will not normally be taken until the matter has been reasonably investigated and the employee has an opportunity to state their case.
  • Employees will normally be informed of complaints against them in writing and invited to attend a disciplinary meeting.
  • An employee will be informed of their right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union representative.
  • An employee will not normally be dismissed for a first breach of discipline except in the case of gross misconduct, when the penalty may be dismissal without notice or payment in lieu of notice.
  • The Company reserves the right to enter this procedure at any stage in appropriate circumstances (i.e. it may give an employee a Stage 3 warning even if there hasn’t been a Stage 1 or Stage 2 warning) or to skip stages.
  • An employee has a right to appeal against any disciplinary action taken against them.
  • The Company reserves the right to suspend any employee, on full pay, if it is considered necessary during an investigation into any alleged breach of discipline.  Suspensions are of a precautionary nature and do not imply guilt or that an employee will receive a disciplinary penalty.  The period of suspension will be as brief as possible and will be kept under review.
  • Where time limits are referred to in the course of this procedure they are guides only.  The Company will keep employees updated if any time-frames are likely to slip.
  • Disciplinary action will usually be taken by the employee’s line manager or such other person as the Company may at its discretion determine.  HR may also be present at all disciplinary hearings.

Examples of Disciplinary Matters

No two cases are the same and it is not possible to list all areas of conduct or performance which may result in disciplinary action. However the following are examples of misconduct which, if upheld, will normally result in the issue of written warnings:

  • Unauthorised absence.
  • Lateness, poor attendance; and/or persistent bad timekeeping.
  • Minor damage to Company property.
  • Contravention of minor safety offences.
  • Poor performance
  • Disruptive or abusive behaviour.
  • Disobedience and/or minor breaches of Company procedures/rules or of an obligation in your contract of employment.
  • Unreasonable refusal to follow an instruction issued by a manager or supervisor.

This list is not intended to be either exhaustive or exclusive and serious examples of any of the above can amount to gross misconduct.

Gross misconduct

Certain conduct is regarded by the Company as so serious as to warrant consideration of summary dismissal (i.e. dismissal without notice).  Again it is not possible to set out an exhaustive list.  Conduct which may justify summary dismissal (i.e. gross misconduct) includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Physical violence.
  • Threatening, abusive or intimidating behaviour of any kind whether to colleagues, customers, contractors, suppliers or members of the public.
  • Unlawful discrimination, bullying or harassment.
  • Breach of the Company’s rules relating to electronic communication systems and computers.
  • Sexual misconduct at work.
  • Serious infringement of health and safety rules.
  • Rudeness to customers.
  • Smoking on Company premises.
  • Deliberate and serious damage to property.
  • Reckless or serious misuse of a Company vehicle.
  • Dishonesty, theft or fraud including falsifying of any Company records.
  • Misuse of the Company’s property or name.
  • Serious breach of the Company’s policies, or an obligation contained in your contract of employment.
  • Serious breach of confidence or misuse of confidential or business sensitive information.
  • Conviction of a serious criminal offence whilst an employee of the Company.
  • Drunkenness or being under the influence of illegal drugs whilst at work.
  • Possession, custody or control of illegal drugs on the Company's premises.
  • Willful neglect of duty or serious negligence.

Other acts of misconduct may, if sufficiently serious, come within the definition of gross misconduct.

Disciplinary Procedure

Before taking formal disciplinary action a manager may resolve the matter by informal discussions with an employee.  A Manager may keep a record of the notes of any informal discussions with an employee.  However, if it is inappropriate for a matter to be raised informally, or where the matter is of a repetitive nature, the formal disciplinary procedure will usually be instigated.


An employee's manager will promptly and thoroughly investigate any matter that is reasonably suspected or believed to contravene any of the Company's policies or rules or may otherwise be a disciplinary matter. The employee will be informed as soon as possible as to the fact of an investigation and when it has been concluded.

Where the matter to be investigated involves serious misconduct, or there are other reasons justifying such a course, the employee may be immediately suspended from work on full pay and contractual benefits. A decision to suspend may be made at any time during an investigative process. Any decision to suspend will be confirmed in writing within 3 working days and such written confirmation will state that the nature of the suspension is precautionary, not disciplinary, pending the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings.

Depending on the circumstances, the employee may be invited to attend an investigatory interview. If such an interview is held prior to a disciplinary hearing, the employee will be informed at the outset that the interview is an investigatory interview. Employees do not have the right to be accompanied at investigatory interviews.  The Company reserves the right to dispense with an investigatory interview and to proceed directly to a formal disciplinary hearing.

In the case of poor performance, informal performance management steps will be taken prior to any formal process.

The disciplinary hearing

Where, upon completion of an investigation, there are reasonable grounds to believe that an employee has committed an act of misconduct; the employee will be invited to attend a disciplinary hearing held by the employee's manager (or, if that is inappropriate for any reason, another manager nominated by the Company).

In the event of a disciplinary hearing taking place the Company will:

(a) give the employee a minimum of 2 days' advance notice of the hearing;

(b) tell the employee the purpose of the hearing, and that it will be held under the Company's disciplinary procedure;

(c) give the employee written details of the nature of their alleged misconduct; and

(d) provide to the employee all relevant information not less than 2 days in advance of the hearing.

The employee is generally entitled to be accompanied by either a work colleague or appropriately certified trade union official at any disciplinary hearing, however the Company reserves the right not to allow a particular accompanier where it has reasonable grounds to do so.  Where the employee is unable to attend a disciplinary hearing and provides a good reason (e.g. employee’s chosen companion is not available), the hearing will be postponed to another reasonable time or date within five working days of the original hearing.

At the hearing, the Company will explain the complaint and will go through the evidence that has been gathered.   The employee will be allowed to set out their case and answer any allegations that have been made.  The employee will be given a reasonable opportunity to ask questions, present evidence and to call relevant witnesses.  The employee will also be given an opportunity to raise points about any information provided by witnesses.  If the Company or the employee intend to call witnesses, they will give advance notice that they intend to do this.

The Company may adjourn the disciplinary proceedings if it appears necessary or desirable to do so (including for the purpose of gathering further information). The Company will inform the employee and if further information is gathered, the employee will be given a reasonable period of time to consider the new information prior to the reconvening of the disciplinary proceedings.

The employee will be informed of the outcome of the hearing in writing as soon as reasonably practicable.

Disciplinary Sanctions

Stage 1 – Informal

Where a minor offence or offences have been committed, the employee will normally be given an informal written email warning. The fact that the warning has been given may be a relevant factor in subsequent disciplinary matters with the same employee. The employee will be advised of;

  • the reason for the warning;
  • that it is the first stage of the disciplinary procedure and that any further misconduct will render the employee liable to further disciplinary action
  • that during the period, the Company may rely on such warning in the event of further misconduct on the part of the employee; and
  • state that the employee may appeal against the warning

In the case of poor performance or performance improvement, a document will be provided to the employee clearly stating the areas that require improvement. This will be backed up by any additional evidence of the performance issues

Stage 2 - Written warning 

Where the offence is serious, or if a further offence of the same or different nature occurs, a written warning will be given to the employee by the manager. This will give details of the complaint, the improvement required and the timescale.

The warning will be recorded on the employee’s personal file and will remain ‘live’ for 6 months, unless stated otherwise.  The fact that the warning has been given may be a relevant factor in subsequent disciplinary matters with the same employee, even if it is no longer ‘live’.

The employee will be advised of:

  • the nature of the offence which has resulted in a written warning;
  • that it is the second stage of the disciplinary procedure and that any further misconduct is likely to result in their dismissal; and
  • their right to appeal against the warning.


Stage 3 - Final written warning or disciplinary suspension 


  1. the employee has committed further acts of misconduct;
  2. the employee's conduct has failed to improve;
  3. an offence of a different nature occurs; or
  4. if the misconduct is sufficiently serious to warrant only one written warning but insufficiently serious to justify dismissal (in effect both first and final written warning),

a final written warning will normally be given to the employee.

The warning will be recorded on the employee’s personal file and will remain ‘live’ for 12 months.  The fact that the warning has been given may be a relevant factor in subsequent disciplinary matters with the same employee, even if it is no longer ‘live’.

The warning will give details of the complaint, will warn that dismissal will result if there is no satisfactory improvement and will advise of the right of appeal.

Where a final written warning is given to an employee, the Company may also impose on the employee  disciplinary sanction short of dismissal, such as: suspension; demotion; suspension without pay for such period as the Company thinks fit in the circumstances subject to a maximum of 6 months, or transfer to a job of a lower status.

Stage 4: Dismissal

If conduct or performance is still unsatisfactory or a further offence of a different nature occurs and the employee still fails to reach the prescribed standards, dismissal will normally result. Dismissal may also be appropriate for any gross misconduct regardless of whether there are active warnings on the employee’s record.The employee will be provided, as soon as reasonably practicable, with written reasons for dismissal, the date on which employment will terminate and the right of appeal. Except in cases of gross misconduct where no notice or payment in lieu of notice is due, the employee may be dismissed with notice or with pay in lieu of notice.


If the employee wishes to appeal, they must inform the Company in writing of the decision within the time limit set out in the letter informing them of the outcome of the disciplinary hearing. The employee will be invited to an appeal meeting with, where possible, a manager who is more senior (or someone with the authority to overturn the original decision) to the person who determined the outcome.  Wherever possible, the appeal will be dealt with by a manager who has not previously been involved in the case.  HR may also be present at the appeal meeting.

When lodging an appeal, the employee should state:

  • the grounds of appeal;
  • whether they are appealing against the finding that they have committed the alleged acts or poor performance, or against the level of disciplinary sanction imposed; and
  • the employee must provide written notice of the appeal within 5 working days of being informed of any of the disciplinary sanctions being imposed against them.

Where possible an appeal hearing will take place within 14 days of receipt of the employee's written notice of appeal. The employee must take all reasonable steps to attend the appeal meeting.

Upon completion of the appeal, the manager conducting the hearing will convey their decision to the employee. The Company's decision at the appeal is final.  The employee will be informed of the outcome in writing as soon as reasonably practicable, usually within 5 working days of the appeal and this will be in one of 3 forms:

  • the original decision will be upheld, in which case any disciplinary action will be confirmed;
  • the original decision will be overturned, in which case any disciplinary sanction will be rescinded; or
  • the original decision will be substantially confirmed but a different sanction will be substituted for that originally imposed.  This could either be a more severe or a less severe sanction.
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