Disciplinary Procedure

It Should Be Taken Step By Step

Taslim Ahammad :
Employer use disciplinary procedures to tell employees that their performance or conduct not up to the expected standard and to encourage improvement. When an employer disciplines or dismisses an employee, they are legally required to follow established disciplinary procedures.
A disciplinary procedure is a process for dealing with perceived employee misconduct. Organisations will typically have a wide range of disciplinary procedures to invoke depending on the severity of the transgression. However, by law, there are certain steps that must be included in a disciplinary procedure these are known as the statutory procedures. Employer’s disciplinary procedure should include and maintain the following steps:
Suspension – In the case of alleged serious misconduct, the Head of Institution may suspend the assistant from duty with pay, and the assistant should not then attend for work until instructed otherwise. The Head of Institution will immediately inform the HR Committee of all the relevant facts. Suspension is not a disciplinary decision and does not imply that any decision has been made about whether or not the assistant has committed a disciplinary offence. It is simply a way of allowing time for an investigation to take place.
Investigation – The employer, after consultation with the HR Department, will see the assistant to investigate the matter. The assistant may choose to be accompanied by a representative, who should be an accredited trade’s union representative or another member of the assistant staff. A representative of the HR committee will also be present at the interview.The investigation should be unbiased, fair and reasonable. It should also seek to establish the facts and not just collect evidence against the employee. Employee should be given copies of any information that comes out of the investigation.
Disciplinary meetings – A disciplinary meeting is a meeting during which the employer should explain the allegations and go through the evidence collated during an investigation. The employees should be allowed to set out their cases and answer the allegations. An employee should have a reasonable opportunity to ask questions, present evidence, call relevant witnesses and raise any issues regarding the information provided by witnesses.
Disciplinary decisions – Following the meeting, the employer will consider the facts of the case and consult with the HR Department. The head of HR on behalf of the HR committee will advise the employer of the action to be taken. The employer will notify the assistant and where appropriate the assistant’s representative, of the decision. They may choose to tell you personally, they should also confirm what they have told employee in writing. Depending on the reason for the disciplinary action, the decision might be: (i) no action (ii) a verbal warning (ii) a written warning (iv) a final warning (v) demotion (vi) dismissal. The outcome might also be anything else that could resolve the problem, such as an agreement to mediate with a co-worker with whom you have had personal problems.
Appeal against disciplinary decisions – The employee can appeal against a disciplinary decision on both conduct and performance matters must do so in writing. They need to set out grounds for appeal within five working days. Thus it can be concluded that if an employer wishes to reserve the right to review, in an appeal hearing, a sanction imposed by the Chairperson of a disciplinary hearing, then this must be clearly stated in the appeal policy and procedure, and furthermore the employee should be warned by the Chairperson of the disciplinary hearing, when advising the employee of his right to appeal, that his appeal may result in a more adverse outcome or may result in a stricter sanction being imposed.
Disciplinary appeals – During a disciplinary procedure, if your employer does anything that seems unreasonable employee should tell them (in writing) and suggest ways to solve the problem. They may decide to carry on the procedure anyway, in which case employee might decide to use the issue as grounds for an appeal. Employee may appeal against the decision if they think: (i) the decision was wrong (ii) unfair procedures were used (iii) the punishment is too harsh (iv) new evidence has come to light (v) The appeals process is similar to the disciplinary procedure: (i) Employee write a letter giving reasons for appealing (ii) there’s a meeting, usually with a more senior manager than was at the first meeting (iii) then a final decision need to made.
If unhappy with appeal decision – If employee not accepts the decision, should first check to see if employee has a further right of appeal. In some situations employee can make a claim to an industrial tribunal. Possible grounds for making a claim include: (i) unlawful discrimination in the procedure (ii) breach of statutory rights, such as, disciplined for joining or refusing to join a trade union (iii) constructive dismissal, if employee feel that person had to resign because of the action (iv) unfair dismissal. Normally, the usual time limit for making a tribunal claim is three months.
Employers must establish clear disciplinary and dismissal procedures in written as part of the employment contract. Unfair dismissals can result in significant penalties for the employer, including a compensation settlement relative to the employee’s salary and other matters.

(Taslim Ahammad, Assistant Professor, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University, Gopalganj, Bangladesh)

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