Disciplinary Procedures And Grievances

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Learn more about the legislation behind disciplinaries and grievances procedures and policy here.

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Disciplinaries and grievances procedures and policy

In any business, there will be times when either the employer feels an employee isn’t carrying out their duties, or when an employee feels they are being treated unfairly by their employer. These situations lead to either disciplinary action by the employer or an employee raising a grievance with their employer.

In these situations, it’s key that disciplinaries and grievances procedures and policies are in place. The employment law team at Crombie Wilkson are experts in disciplinary and grievance policy and can help both sides to resolve their differences.

We can advise employees when raising grievances at work, or support the employer to resolve such grievances. Our team can also help deal with claims relating to disciplinary action and hearings.

Differences between disciplinaries and grievances procedures

Disciplinary procedures are usually raised by the employer when they feel the employee is performing poorly or in relation to some form of misconduct.

Grievance policies are in place to allow employees to air concerns or make complaints about how their employer is performing or treating them. Once a grievance is raised, employers need to investigate fully. There can be an informal investigation to resolve the issues or, for more serious complaints, a formal investigation. This can lead to a hearing to discuss the grievance.

These policies should be laid out clearly, often in a handbook or on an intranet. They usually follow the guidance laid out in the ACAS Code of Practice. They apply to all employees and employers.

For employment law advice, please contact Neil Largan.

The importance of following disciplinary and grievance processes

For both employer and employee, disciplinary and grievance processes are important as a way to allow everyone to work in a safe and productive environment.

Disciplinary policies are important as they provide:

  • A framework against which employees can be judged and to know what is expected from them.
  • A structure by which an employee can improve their performance if their performance has suffered.
  • Ways to show any disciplinary tribunal or hearing that the right process has been followed after a complaint about performance was made by the employer.

Grievance policies, likewise, are important as a way for employees to voice their concerns and provide a framework on which grievance can progress and outcomes planned.

Grievance procedures can provide employees with a key point of contact and method of making complaints. They should also help work towards a resolution without the need for a tribunal or official hearing.

ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures

The ACAS Code of Practice forms a key part of employment tribunals. Any employment tribunal needs to legally take the ACAS Code of Practice into account. 

If the Code isn’t taken into account, compensation payments could be up to 25% larger and equally any compensation reduced by up to 25% if the employee does not comply with the code.

Reasons for disciplinary action

There are a number of legal reasons an employer might take disciplinary action. These should be laid out by the employer. Employee misconduct could include:

  • Drinking alcohol at work
  • Lying when at work
  • Falling asleep at work
  • Swearing at work
  • Unauthorised absences
  • Bullying
  • Theft

Some of the above actions are considered gross misconduct, which could lead to instant termination of an employee’s contract

Disciplinary meetings at work

Often the first step in disciplinary action is a meeting between the employee in question and the employer. Employees have the right to have a third-party present at such meetings, whether it’s legal representation, a member of their union or a fellow employee.

We can provide legal representation at disciplinary meetings. Contact our employment law team to discuss.

An employee rights in disciplinary meetings means they are allowed to have someone present, who can simply be there as a witness, present part or all of the case, or support the case as a witness of their behaviour.

At the hearing, an employee should prepare to hear the case against them and defend their actions with any evidence available. Following the meeting, the employer will review the case and decide on what actions should be taken.


  • Neil Largan
      • Neil Largan
      • Director, Head of Dispute Resolution Team
      • 01904 624185
      • View profile