The company is committed to maintaining high standards of conduct, competence and performance in the workplace and will address all disciplinary matters fairly and appropriately.
The company also aims to ensure that employees have every opportunity to raise issues arising out of your employment and that all grievances are properly heard and resolved.
All employees will be treated fairly and consistently although it may be necessary to treat similar cases differently according to the circumstances, and the company will endeavour to complete disciplinary and grievance procedures without unreasonable delay.
This procedure reflects your and our legal rights and obligations but does not form part of your contractual terms of employment. It can be departed from, amended or replaced at any time at the company’s discretion. This includes the company’s right to jump stages of the procedure. The procedure does not apply in redundancy or retirement cases or the non-renewal of a fixed term contract. It applies to all employees irrespective of length of service or working arrangements.
We understand and respect the need for confidentiality and we expect all members of staff involved in any investigation or disciplinary proceedings to maintain strict confidentiality and to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 principles when handling sensitive personal data. Any breach of confidentiality may result in disciplinary proceedings being taken against the person committing the breach.
The following principles apply at every stage of the company’s disciplinary and grievance procedures:-
The company will investigate any complaints and allegations promptly and will not take any action until the matter has been fully investigated.
So far as reasonably practical any disciplinary hearing will be dealt with by a member of management who has not previously been involved in investigating the matter.
Following investigation, the company will notify you in writing if any allegations or complaints against you and of the time and date of a disciplinary hearing at which they will be considered.
You will normally be given the opportunity to see the evidence relied upon by the company (including any witness statements save where a witness’s identity is to be kept confidential) and will be able to present your own evidence at a disciplinary or grievance hearing before a decision is made. The company will, where practicable, give you reasonable advance notice of any witnesses it has asked to be present at the hearing and if you wish to call witnesses you should give the firm reasonable advance notice that you wish to do so. You will not usually be allowed to ask questions of witnesses.
You must take all reasonable steps to attend meetings and must cooperate fully with us in any investigation when responding to any questions.
You are entitled to be accompanied to a disciplinary or grievance meeting by a work colleague or Trade Union representative (except for any investigatory meeting). You can confer with your companion and he/she can ask questions but he/she cannot answer questions on your behalf. You shall notify us well in advance of the meeting who your companion is. If you (or your chosen companion) are not available to attend a meeting on the appropriate date you may propose an alternative time which is reasonable and falls within five working days of the appointed date. However, if you fail to attend a meeting without good reason, you may forfeit your right to attend and we may have to make a decision based on the evidence available to us.
Any decisions and reasons will be communicated to you in writing, if possible within one week of the hearing or as soon as reasonable practicable thereafter. You will be given the opportunity to appeal against any decision. In appeal meetings which are not the first meeting as far as reasonably practical the company will be represented by a more senior manager than attended the first meeting. If where appropriate the company suspends you during any investigations, any such suspension will be kept as brief as possible and will be kept under review. If you are suspended pending investigation this will not represent a disciplinary sanction and your contract of employment will continue in force.
If you raise a grievance during a disciplinary process the company may, if it is appropriate to do so, temporarily suspend the disciplinary process while it deals with your grievance. If the grievance you raise is connected to the disciplinary process, the company may decide to deal with both procedures at the same time.
If you are disabled and require adjustments to be made to any part of the procedure to overcome any difficulty you may have, you should raise this with the company.
At any stage or before any formal action has been taken we will where appropriate carry out investigations. Where possible the investigation will be carried out by somebody other than the person who will hear any disciplinary hearing which may result. You will be notified in writing about the alleged misconduct and what the sanctions may be if found proven.
How much investigation is necessary will depend upon the facts and complexity of each case and it may be necessary to speak with witnesses and take statements.
You are not entitled to be accompanied by a companion at any investigatory interview, although if you feel disadvantaged by this, for example if you are hard of hearing and would like an interpreter, you should discuss your requirements with the partners and, if appropriate, we will agree.
It may be necessary to suspend you on full pay from work for no longer than necessary when carrying out an investigation. Whilst on suspension you remain under strict duties of confidentiality and good faith and must not discuss the matter under investigation nor should you contact any employees, clients or customers of the company other than as agreed with us.
The company may follow this disciplinary procedure if your conduct, competence or performance is inappropriate or unacceptable. The procedure may be implemented at any stage if your conduct warrants such action if the company considers it appropriate in the circumstances.
You will not usually be dismissed for a first breach of the company’s rules, policies and procedures except in the case of gross misconduct. You should always abide by the expressed terms of your contract of employment and by your implied terms of good faith and loyalty.
The following are examples of misconduct:
Minor breach of company rules, policies and procedures
Minor damage to company property
Unsatisfactory attendance and/or time keeping
Failure to meet the appropriate and expected standards of work
This list is intended as a guide and is not exhaustive.
If the offence being investigated concerns a criminal matter which is being investigated by the Police or you are subject to criminal charges we will not normally await the outcome of any court proceedings but will carry out our own investigation and follow our own procedure when considering what action to take. You are reminded that the outcome of any Police investigation may not affect any internal disciplinary proceedings.
The following are examples of gross misconduct (entitling the company to terminate your employment without notice or pay in lieu of notice):
Theft, fraud or any act of dishonesty
Any act or attempted act of violence or abusive behaviour towards people or property
Any serious act of insubordination or refusal to carry out reasonable requests
Major breach of company rules, policies and procedures
Deliberate and/or major damage to company property
Unauthorised or unreasonable absence or consistently poor timekeeping
Serious neglect of duties or incompetence
Serious breach of Health & Safety obligations
Deliberately accessing internet sites containing pornographic, violent, racist, obscene or otherwise offensive or unlawful material
Serious incapability at work brought on by alcohol or illegal drugs
Serious breach of confidence
Any form of discrimination, victimisation, harassment or bullying on the grounds of sex, pregnancy or maternity, marital or civil partnership status, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, race, colour, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, disability or age
Any other breach of the company’s policy on bullying or harassment
Any act likely to bring the company into disrepute
This list is intended as a guide and is not exhaustive.
Disciplinary Action – Types of Action
If your conduct, competence or performance is inappropriate or unacceptable the company may attempt to resolve the matter on an informal basis depending upon the seriousness of the offence. All formal warnings will be issued after a Hearing and you have the right of appeal against any such warnings issued to you. If, however, the matter cannot be resolved on this basis, the company will consider the following action.
If your conduct, competence or performance is unacceptable you may receive an oral warning. You will be informed of the reasons for the warning and, where relevant, the improvement required from you. A note of the oral warning will normally be entered in your personnel file but will not be taken into account when considering future offences.
First Written Warning
If your conduct, competence or performance does not improve or if any further unacceptable conduct, competence or performance occurs you will receive a written warning. You will be informed of the reasons for the warning and, where relevant, the improvement required from you. A copy of this written warning will be kept in your personnel file.
Final Written Warning
If your conduct, competence or performance does not improve or any further unacceptable conduct, competence or performance occurs you will receive a final written warning. You will be informed that if your conduct, competence or performance does not reach an acceptable standard your employment will be terminated. A copy of this final written warning will be kept in your personnel file. All warnings will indicate the time of misconduct which has occurred and what is required of you. It will also indicate the length of time the warning will remain live and what will happen if you re-offend.
If your conduct, competence or performance does not improve or any further unacceptable conduct, competence or performance occurs you may be dismissed. If it appears that there may be grounds on which your employment may be terminated summarily the company may begin with this stage of the procedure.
Length of Warning
In the case of oral and first written warnings a warning will usually apply for six months after which it will lapse. A final written warning will usually apply for twelve months before lapsing. The company reserves the right to extend a warning in appropriate circumstances.
Disciplinary Procedure, Contemplating Dismissal or Disciplinary Action
If the company is contemplating dismissal or other disciplinary action, provided for in your contract, it will apply the following procedure.
You will be advised in writing of your alleged conduct, characteristics or other circumstances which have led the company to contemplate dismissing or taking disciplinary action against you and the reasons why the conduct is not acceptable. You will be invited to attend a meeting as soon as reasonably practicable to discuss the matter.
A meeting will take place to discuss the allegations before any action is taken. You have the right to call witnesses and we will go through the evidence with you during the meeting. At the Hearing the charges against you will be reviewed.
You will be given adequate time to prepare your case before a Hearing is held and you will be given an opportunity to put forward your views before any decision is made. It may be necessary to adjourn the hearing if we need to carry out further investigations or time to consider our decision.
A decision will be given if reasonably practicable within five working days of the meeting and confirmed to you in writing. You will be notified of your right to appeal the decision.
If you wish to appeal you must inform the company in writing within five working days of the receipt of the decision, setting out the grounds of your appeal. If you raise new matters we may need to carry out a fresh investigation.
You will be invited to attend a meeting to discuss your grounds of appeal. Where possible your appeal will be heard by the next most senior manager who was not involved in the decision from which the appeal is made. The appeal hearing may be a review or a complete rehearing at our discretion and depending upon the facts of the case.
A decision will be given if reasonably practicable within five working days of the meeting and confirmed to you in writing. The decision will be final and you will have no further right of appeal.
This procedure is designed to encourage good working relations and a quick and fair resolution of grievances concerning work related matters. A grievance may be about a wide range of matters including dissatisfaction about your terms of employment or difficulties with working relationships. If you have a grievance which requires resolution you should in the first instance discuss the matter on an informal basis with the partners. The company hopes that most grievances can be resolved at this stage. As with the disciplinary procedure this procedure does not form part of your contractual terms of employment and may be replaced, departed from or amended at any time at the company’s discretion.
If the grievance cannot be resolved on an informal basis you should set out your grievance in writing and send a copy of it to the company. Your grievance should clearly set out what you are complaining about, making the details as specific as possible. A general complaint would be difficult for us to assess and we may ask for further clarifying questions. A copy of your grievance will be kept in your file and processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act principles. The company will invite you to attend a meeting as soon as reasonably practicable to discuss your grievance.
Prior to the meeting you must ensure you have informed the company in full what the basis is for your grievance.
A meeting will take place promptly as reasonable practicable to discuss your grievance. You can be accompanied. A decision will be given if reasonably practicable within five working days of the meeting and confirmed to you in writing. You will be notified of your right to appeal the decision.
If you wish to appeal you must inform the company in writing within five working days of the receipt of the decision setting out the grounds of your appeal. You will be invited to attend a meeting to discuss your grounds of appeal. If possible your appeal will be held by another manager who is not involved in the decision from which the appeal is made.
A decision will be given, if reasonably practicable within five working days of the meeting and confirmed to you in writing. The decision will be final and you will have no further right of appeal.