Following the recent High Court Case new proposals in relation to JLC/REA's have been made by the government:
24-Nov-10 at 18.17 | Resolve HR Admin
Following today's decision to reduce the Minimum Wage rate to €7.65. The Government has signalled that the ERO and REA rates should be reviewed. In particular the Catering,...

Guide to Disciplinary Procedures

We have received a lot of calls from employers on the do's and don'ts when disciplining employers. So we have decided to highlight the basic principals in this section. The main guide for employers in relation to disciplinary procedures is the Code of Practice published by the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures - S.I. NO. 146 OF 2000. This code is not legally binding but it is the benchmark used by the Labour Court, LRC, Employment Appeals Tribunal, Rights Commissioners and Equality Officers when reviewing cases. 

 

While this code accepts that procedures and policies will vary from business to business it does insist that they all comply with the following basic principles of natural justice:

  • That employee grievances are fairly examined and processed;
  • That details of any allegations or complaints are put to the employee concerned;
  • That the employee concerned is given the opportunity to respond fully to any such allegations or complaints;
  • That the employee concerned is given the opportunity to avail of the right to be represented during the procedure;
  • That the employee concerned has the right to a fair and impartial determination of the issues concerned, taking into account any representations made by, or on behalf of, the employee and any other relevant or appropriate evidence, factors or circumstances

 

As part of their terms and conditions of employment all employees should be aware of what is expected from them and the consequences for failing to meet these expectations. Before starting any disciplinary action the employer must determine all the allegations against the employee. They should then:

  • Inform the employee in writing of all allegations and provide the employee with all relevant documentation.
  • Inform the employee of the possible disciplinary sanctions.
  • Give a reasonable notice period for any disciplinary meetings to be held, in order for the employee to source a representative and prepare (An employee is entitled to be represented by a trade union official or fellow employee).
  • Give the employee an opportunity to make their defence and to question any complainants.
  • Ensure that witnesses are available to give evidence.
  • Ensure that the employee is aware of their right of appeal and specify the procedure to be followed.

 

Any sanctions that are imposed on the employee as part of a disciplinary process must be in proportion to the issue. Sanctions can include:

  • Oral warning
  • Written warning
  • Final written warning
  • Suspension without pay
  • Demotion or transfer.
  • Dismissal

 

Sanctions are normally awarded in a progressive manner e.g. oral warning- written warning e.t.c. Any warnings recorded on an employee's file must be removed after a specific period. You cannot fairly dismiss an employee for a breech of discipline citing a final warning placed on their file several years before. However any good disciplinary policy will allow the employer to enter the disciplinary process at any stage. For example issues of Gross Misconduct more often then not end up in the employee being dismissed.

 

One of the biggest mistakes make by employers is assuming that they can summarily dismiss employees without any investigation (i.e. fire them on the spot). This is not the case regardless of how cut and dried the issue appears to be. In cases like this the employee should be suspended with pay (depending on the issue) pending a disciplinary hearing.

 

Sometimes employers get impatient when disciplining staff, check out the Resolve HR Blog to see what happens when employers fail to follow or do not have disciplinary procedures in place. When utilised properly Disciplinary Procedures will deliver a timely and fair response to breeches of workplace discipline and standards. For more information on this please Contact Us