Disciplinary Procedure: Unlock The Step-By-Steps Guide

Employers use discipline procedures to inform staff members that their behavior or performance exceeds expectations and motivate them to raise the bar.

A disciplinary procedure follows an employee misconduct investigation. Depending on the seriousness of the offense, organizations typically have a wide array of disciplinary approaches to use.

Both informal and formal processes are used for disciplining employees. Informal disciplinary procedures might not be codified and may be handled “discreetly” by a manager.

 Legal disciplinary procedures are more likely to be codified in a company handbook or employment contract and adhered to closely by the employer because disagreement over handling could result in an employment tribunal.

Employees who commit serious offenses may be suspended from their jobs while disciplinary measures are being taken.

While it’s not required by law to follow Acas’ recommendations, failing could result in a higher payout at an employment tribunal. Acas offers guidance to UK HR departments on how to handle disciplinary procedures.

How do disciplinary processes operate? 

Sometimes, the ideal way for your employer to tell you something is amiss is through a disciplinary process. It gives them a chance to explain what needs to be improved clearly, and it ought to provide you with an opportunity to present your argument.

Your employer must put their disciplinary process in writing and make it easily accessible to all employees. The guidelines, conduct that could result in disciplinary action, and potential employer actions should all be included.

A quick solution to a problem can frequently be found in this way. Your employer may attempt to discuss the issue informally with you before taking formal disciplinary action against you or terminating your employment. However, they can use their official disciplinary or dismissal processes right away.

An informal resolution should be attempted before the employer launches a disciplinary process. This is frequently the most straightforward and quickest option.

What constitutes misconduct?

When an employee violates company policies with improper behavior or action, this is considered misconduct.

Examples of inappropriate behavior include:



-‘Insubordination,’ or refusing to perform duties.

-being away without authorization (also known as “awol” or “absent without leave”)

However, your place of employment might have some of its own.

When improper behavior takes place away from the area of employment.

Discipline could be applied to an employee for improper behavior off the clock.

For instance, the company will suffer if a worker misbehaves at the office Christmas party in front of external clients.

It depends on how seriously the employer views the misconduct and whether it might negatively impact the company.

It is critical that the employer conducts a thorough investigation and can demonstrate the impact on the business.

When there is flagrant wrongdoing.

Some actions qualify as “gross misconduct” because they are particularly grave or have severe repercussions.

The employer should still conduct the entire disciplinary process and an investigation if they discover serious misconduct. When that happens, they might opt for a notice-free termination or a notice-in lieu-of-payment option.

The following are a few instances of severe misconduct at work.


-violence on the body.

Gross negligence is a severe lack of regard for one’s obligations or other people.

The employer ought to attempt to resolve the situation with their employee by:

  • Speaking with them and any other staff members involved in private.
  • Hearing what they have to say.
  • Recognizing the need for improvement.
  • Establishing a training or development plan if there is a performance issue.

Legal minimum disciplinary procedures

A disciplinary procedure must follow a set of minimum legal requirements, or “statutory minimum procedures,” to be valid. The following actions should be part of your employer’s disciplinary process:

  • A letter outlining the rationale (or rationales) for the potential disciplinary action.
  • A discussion in a group setting.
  • An order of discipline.
  • An opportunity to contest this judgment.

If your employer fires you without following this procedure, the firing will typically be deemed “automatically unfair” if you file a claim for unfair dismissal. Before filing an unfair dismissal claim, you usually need at least a year of service.

Procedures for discipline in your employment contract.

Your employment contract gives your employer the option of defining their disciplinary measures. 

These must, however, adhere to the statutory minimum disciplinary requirements.

You could file a lawsuit for breach of the employment contract if your employer doesn’t follow the established disciplinary procedure required by your warranty.


If your employer terminates you without adhering to this process, the termination will typically be viewed as “automatically unfair” if you pursue an unfair dismissal claim. 

Typically, it would be best if you had at least a year of service before you could make an unfair dismissal claim.

Your employment contract gives your employer the right to establish its disciplinary policies. However, these must follow the statutory minimum disciplinary standards.

Suppose your employer doesn’t adhere to a disciplinary procedure that was established and is specified in your contract. In that case, you may be able to file a lawsuit for breach of an employment contract.

How does a disciplinary process appear?

A lot of employers will have their official and unofficial methods available.

Unofficial method.

This typically entails meeting with the employee to discuss any issues that may be of concern. To confirm what was discussed and the improvements needed, a “letter of concern” may be issued as a result.

Keeping written records of informal discussions – a diary note can frequently be sufficient – and timely addressing misconduct issues is an important message to employers.

When misconduct is allowed to continue, it frequently gets to the point where the manager or employer cannot handle it any longer and wants to dismiss the employee. This would typically be an unjust response because no effort has been made to inform the employee of the misconduct the employer is dealing with. 

Addressing problems as soon as they arise is crucial to avoid a snowball effect. It is frequently possible to address the issues and achieve some improvement using an informal process.

Formal method

A formal disciplinary procedure typically has several steps, including:


The fact-finding phase of the formal procedure is the investigation. An investigation typically follows a misconduct allegation (although this isn’t always true, and your policies should support it). 

Any investigation must be fair and impartial; it cannot just be concerned with establishing the employee’s guilt. Any investigation’s goal is to determine, based on the balance of probabilities, whether there is a question to be answered. Please consider who should conduct the research; they must be impartial.

It may be appropriate in some circumstances to suspend the employee with pay while the investigation is underway. When deciding whether to stop, it’s important to remember that a knee-jerk reaction isn’t always the right one. 

Normal circumstances call for a suspension when there is a risk to the company or the employee or concern that the employee might obstruct the investigation. 

A break should always be with pay because it is not a punitive action and does not signify an employee’s guilt.


While the matter is being investigated, your employer has the right to suspend you. The suspension should be on full pay to clarify that this is not a punishment. When this occurs, you still have your employment rights, and if you’re not paid what you’re owed, you can claim that the money was stolen from your wages.

You might be instructed to avoid interacting with coworkers, clients, and suppliers. You may have a case for an appeal if this prevents you from defending yourself. You can choose to do this or not, but your employer might take further disciplinary action if you don’t.

Disciplinary Meetings 

Ensure the allegation is adequately formed; consider including a more general accusation (e. g. a breach of trust and confidence), as you might not have enough evidence to prove a particular claim. Still, the employee’s actions or behavior may have been such as to foster a breach of trust, which an employer may believe goes to the heart of the contract and justifies a dismissal (or other sanction).

The invitation should also include information about what might happen at the meeting. It must be made clear that a possible outcome in the case of potential gross misconduct—severe misconduct issues like assault, theft, fraud, and gross negligence—could be summary dismissal. e. an unannounced firing.


If your employer behaves unreasonably during a disciplinary process, you should inform them (in writing) and offer solutions. If they proceed with the process anyway, you might use the problem to justify an appeal.

The third step here is the statutory grievance procedure is an appeal and to bring your case before an industrial tribunal. You must first file an appeal against the decision. Your employer must let you know you can challenge the grievance decision. If you do, your compensation may be increased.

If the decision is incorrect, you may appeal it.

  • The choice needed to be corrected.
  • Unjust practices were applied.
  • It is an excessive punishment.
  • There is new information.
  • You must have a solid justification for your appeal. Personal preferences or minor procedural errors typically won’t affect the final decision. Similar to the disciplinary procedure, the appeals process is as follows:
  • You compose a letter explaining why you are appealing.
  • A meeting is typical with a senior manager absent from the initial meeting.
  • A conclusion is reached.
  • The deadline for appealing is typically outlined in the written procedures, so ensure you know it. Do what you can and provide additional information later if you need to be given more time to appeal.

Finding someone with more authority than the person who made the initial disciplinary decision may be challenging in small businesses. If so, they should hear the appeal with the greatest impartiality possible while using the occasion to review the initial judgment. To this meeting, you have the right to a companion.

Although you could claim constructive dismissal if you choose to leave, you cannot bring a claim before the Industrial Tribunal against a warning. To advocate mediation or conciliation would be preferable.

If the appeals decision doesn’t sit well with you.

If you disagree with the decision, you should first investigate your options for further appeal. In certain circumstances, you may file a claim with an Industrial Tribunal, provided the early conciliation process has been followed. Following are some possible justifications for a lawsuit:

Illegal discrimination in the process.

A violation of statutory rights, such as punishment for supporting or opposing a union.

If you believe you were forced to resign due to the action, constructive dismissal.

Wrongful termination.

If your employer has violated the terms of your contract, you may also file a breach of contract claim in a civil court. Typically, a tribunal claim must be submitted within three months of the occurrence.

The tribunal may give the appeals process an additional three months if it still needs to be finished in time. You should consult a professional for advice if you need clarification on the deadlines.


Employee discipline should be used to assist the employee in improving performance or behavioral issues that negatively affect the workplace.

There should be a disciplinary policy and procedure that outlines the process step-by-step (with deadlines) and includes a policy statement, the policy’s goal, and the policy’s purpose.

How Long Does Disciplinary Process Take?

The length of a disciplinary process can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the internal policies and procedures of the company.

In some cases, a disciplinary process may be resolved relatively quickly, within a matter of days or weeks.

However, in more serious cases, such as those involving allegations of gross misconduct, the process may take several weeks or even months to complete.

It is important for the employer to conduct a thorough investigation, provide the employee with the opportunity to respond to the allegations and follow a fair and consistent process in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations.


By addressing the problems mentioned in this report, the BOP can better ensure that its disciplinary actions adhere to these fundamental goals and provide fair, consistent, and timely discipline for all employees.

Sometimes it seemed like BOP’s sanctions were unreasonable. First, in some cases involving severe, sustained allegations, the CEOs took no disciplinary action or imposed informal discipline without fully adjudicating the cases or providing documentation for their decisions. 

Second, when the CEOs reduced the proposed domain without sufficiently outlining their justifications in the decision letter as required, they failed to act within the bounds of reasonableness. 

Third, CEOs review investigation reports and have the power to make changes in cases where they also serve as decision-making officials. This might jeopardize the impartiality of the BOP disciplinary process’s investigative and adjudicative phases, process and give rise to the possibility of irrational results.

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