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Are disciplinary procedures the same for performance and conduct issues?

When an employee's performance at work isn't up to scratch it's often treated as a disciplinary matter - unless an organisation has its own capability procedures to deal with it.

Poor performance and poor behaviour can both be dealt with under disciplinary procedures, and the way managers should investigate, write to the employee, hold meetings and deal with appeals are the same.

Not exactly the same

But there is an important difference. Managers should be aware that the actions taken at the first stage are not the same.

In job performance issues, the employee should receive an improvement note explaining what needs to be done to bring standards up to an acceptable level within a certain timeframe.

This might include coaching or a programme of training to help them make the improvements they need.

But for misconduct issues, an employee would initially get a first written warning, setting out the terms of expected future behaviour over a certain period. For example, the warning may state that such breaches of conduct must not happen again within 12 months.

Organisations that have their own capability procedures may use it for dealing with performance problems. But the basic principles of fairness set out in the Discipline and grievance - Acas Code of Practice, should still be followed, albeit with appropriate adaptations.

Acas publications and services

Acas has published Discipline and grievances at work: The Acas guide, giving you good practice advice for dealing with problems in the workplace.

Managing discipline - Investigation to possible dismissal: A guide is one of a suite of step-by-step guides aimed at keeping you on the right side of the law in key areas of employment relations. It takes you through all the stages of the discipline procedure, including real-life scenarios and myth busting pages.

Acas experts can visit you and work with you to build effective working relationships and develop robust discipline and grievance procedures. See Disputes and mediation: how Acas can help for more information.

Practical training is also available on Dispute resolution, Mediation, Investigations, Discipline and grievance, Skills for supervisors, Handling difficult conversations, Absence management and, for newer employers, Employing People - A Practical Introduction.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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