By: Simon B
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Every employer has to have a written disciplinary procedure, and you should have details of it in your Written Statement of Employment Particulars, or the statement should point you to where you can read the policy. The policy has to meet minimum standards, but your employer can go further and make the procedures even more flexible.
Before the company can dismiss you, it has to follow those disciplinary procedures, and before it starts a disciplinary action, the company has to investigate the situation fully and be certain that the dispute can’t be resolved informally. Your boss should tell you why the company’s investigating and what he thinks can be done to resolve the matter informally, such as giving you extra training or counselling and giving you time in which to improve.
If your company decides that it has no choice but to start disciplinary action – either because your misdemeanour is too serious to be resolved informally or because the informal approach has been tried and didn’t work – it has to tell you that they’re starting formal proceedings. The company has to hold meetings with you to discuss the matter and allow you to put your side of the story and present any evidence and witnesses. You have the right to be accompanied at those meetings by a union representative or work colleague. Your boss has to tell you what the decision is after each meeting and give you opportunities to improve. He can set deadlines for improvement, and you have the right to appeal during the process, in which case the employer has to hold further appeal meetings. Ultimately and eventually, if no resolution or improvement occurs, the employer can dismiss you.
If you feel your employer has been unfair in the decision to dismiss you, you can take a case for unfair dismissal to an employment tribunal. If your employer failed to follow the correct procedures, the dismissal is automatically unfair.
The aim of the Dispute Resolution Regulations is to make employers think carefully and be absolutely sure that nothing can be done to keep you in your job before deciding on dismissal. The procedure gives several opportunities to discuss the problems and look for ways to keep employees rather than sack them. There is also the option along the way to bring in people to mediate a resolution. If you feel your dismissal has been unfair, go to the CAB or Law Centre for advice.