Discipline and Grievance

by Kate Russell


Managing workers is an essential part of your job. Most workers – most of the time – will operate at an acceptable level. Occasionally, someone will fall below that level and it’s your job to manage them.

Many employers complain that the legal system is stacked against them. While it’s fair to say that in most cases employers probably do have to exercise greater reasonableness than employees, it’s equally true to say that where they lose a case, employers are often the authors of their own misfortunes.

Discipline is about helping employees to improve, rather than punishment, and we should never lose sight of that.

Below is a list of the mistakes that most frequently lead to a finding of unfair dismissal against employers.

  • The employee was not given the opportunity to defend himself or put forward his side of the story.
  • The employee was not made aware of all of the evidence against him.
  • There was no disciplinary hearing.
  • The investigation of the alleged misconduct or shortcomings was inadequate.
  • An earlier ‘warning’ was not made explicit.
  • The disciplinary procedure was not applied in full.
  • The procedure used did not follow the employer’s own rules.
  • The employer chose not to have a procedure at all for more senior staff and managers.
  • The employee was not given a reasonable opportunity to improve performance or conduct.
  • Insufficient investigation of the medical background in dismissals on grounds of ill health, including failing to get an up-to-date medical report of the prognosis.
  • The employee had not been given an opportunity to comment on medical evidence in a case of ill-health dismissal.

This topic will help you get it right every time and reduce your chances of a tribunal claim.