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Discipline

In order to operate effectively, organisations need to set standards for performance and conduct which may be included in company rules. Cases of minor misconduct or unsatisfactory performance are usually best dealt with informally. A quiet word is often all that is required to improve an employee's conduct or performance.

Where some form of formal action is needed, what action is reasonable or justified will depend on all the circumstances of the particular case. Employers should deal with issues promptly, fairly and consistently. Investigations should be carried out to gather and establish all the facts of the case.

Employees should be given the facts of the case and allowed to put their response forward, they have the right to be accompanied at any formal disciplinary meeting and allowed to appeal against any formal decision made.

Further information is available from the Acas Code of Practice 1 - Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures publication.

Questions & answers

Does an employee have the right to be accompanied at a disciplinary meeting?

Employees have a statutory right to be accompanied by a fellow colleague or trade union official when they are required to attend disciplinary meetings.

If the employee is dissatisfied with the outcome of a disciplinary hearing what can they do?

If an employer is dissatisfied with the decision they should follow the organisation's appeals procedure, putting their appeal in writing and without delay.

Legally how should a disciplinary meeting be conducted?

There is no prescribed form under the law for conducting disciplinary meetings. Basic practical guidance is provided in the form of the Code of Practice 1 - Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. This sets out principles for handling disciplinary and grievance situations in the workplace. A failure to follow the Code does not, in itself, make a person or organisation liable to proceedings.

What should disciplinary rules cover?

These will vary with the type of organisation but may cover such matters as:

  • conduct
  • timekeeping
  • absence
  • health and safety
  • use of telephones, email and internet

Did you know?

Acas run practical Training and Business Solutions to equip managers, supervisors and HR professionals with the necessary skills to deal with employment relations issues and to create more productive workplace environments.

Click to view related Acas training and course dates in your area for:

Read more about Acas' Training and Business Solutions.

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Acas Helpline

If you are dealing with a disciplinary or grievance within your organisation then the Acas Helpline could give you guidance on procedures and best practice to help you resolve the problem.

Call the Acas Helpline on 0300 123 1100 for free and impartial advice.

Have you been approached by anyone claiming to be working in association with Acas?

If you think you have we've provided some advice and guidance on what to do and what to look out for to Be aware of Acas imitators.

Acas Helpline

Call our Helpline on 0300 123 1100 for free support and advice or to check your workplace policies and practices. The Acas Helpline provides free and impartial advice for employers, employees and representatives on a range of employment relations, employment rights, HR and management issues.

Some feedback about our Helpline from users:

"Acas is invaluable. We have had lots of HR issues and nobody else to ask."

"Everything that I have asked Acas on the Helpline, they have informed us correctly and in full."

Helpline number: 0300 123 1100
Monday-Friday: 8am-8pm and Saturday 9am-1pm

View further information about our Helpline service, including our new Helpline Online on the Acas Helpline page.

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