So, the disciplinary hearing is over and you’re nearing the end (hopefully). We share our 6 tips on what to include in a Disciplinary outcome letter.
1. Confirm the decision in writing
As soon as possible after a disciplinary meeting, the employer should confirm its decision and the disciplinary action in writing in a disciplinary letter. Simply telling the employee at the disciplinary meeting that you are issuing a formal warning, even when issuing a verbal warning, is not enough.
The Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures states that, after a meeting to discuss a disciplinary issue, the employer should inform the employee of any disciplinary or other action it is taking in writing. Even if the employer has decided to issue an informal verbal warning, it’s important to ensure the employee understands the information, including reasons for the decision and next steps.
Tribunals take the code into account when considering relevant cases and can adjust awards made by up to 25% for an unreasonable failure to comply with it.
2. Explain the nature of the misconduct
The disciplinary outcome letter should provide a summary of the employee’s misconduct, including when the offence occurred.
For example, a warning for poor timekeeping could set out:
• the dates on which the employee arrived late for work;
• how late the employee was on those occasions;
• the employee’s failure to provide a satisfactory explanation for the lateness; and
• what impact the misconduct had on the employee’s work and colleagues.
3. Set out the improvement required
The disciplinary outcome letter must explain what the employee should do, or not do, to meet the expected standards of conduct.
For example, a disciplinary letter issuing an employee with a first written warning for being rude to a customer could explain the expected standards of behaviour when dealing with customers.
It could also state that the employee’s interaction with customers will be monitored closely over the next three months.
The letter could include a copy of the organisation’s policy on expected standards of behaviour.
4. Point out the possible consequences of a failure to improve
The disciplinary outcome letter should set out what will happen if the employee fails to improve his or her conduct within the required timescale, for example, that the next stage of the disciplinary process and the possible disciplinary sanctions will be triggered.
In JJ Food Service Ltd v Kefil, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that a dismissal was unfair in part because an earlier informal warning about Mr Kefil’s management style did not say that if he continued to manage in this way he might be dismissed.
5. Specify the length of the warning
Disciplinary letters should confirm the period of time for which the employee’s warning will remain on file.
6. Confirm the right of appeal
The disciplinary outcome letter should confirm the employee’s right to appeal.
Points to include are:
• to whom the appeal should be made;
• within what time frame; and
• what the appeal should cover.
Finally, keep a record of the disciplinary details
The disciplinary outcome letter should be kept on the employee’s file while the warning remains current.
This means that, should the employee commit further offences during this period, the employer will be able to make decisions taking into account all relevant facts, even if the employee’s line manager at the time of the original misconduct has left the business.
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