Disciplinary Procedure and Guidance

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The Disciplinary Procedure and Guidance can be found below.

These documents apply to all employees of the county council and all school based staff. They do not apply to "Grey Book" staff i.e. Fire Service who have discipline procedures incorporated into their terms and conditions. 

Whether you are a manager or an employee involved in the disciplinary procedure, it is advised that you read the documents below in full.

Link to: Disciplinary procedure and guidance

Link to: Disciplinary Process Map

The drop down options below also contain a summary of the main stages within the disciplinary process. You will also find Frequently Asked Questions and useful template letters, forms and resources that may be used throughout the process.

When a potential misconduct/gross misconduct situation occurs the first step is for the manager/headteacher (or their nominee) to make brief preliminary enquiries to assess whether further action may be required.


This may include meeting with the employee and asking him/her for a response on the matter.


If a preliminary meeting is to be held with the employee it is important to inform them that they can bring a trade union representative or work colleague to the meeting to accompany them if they so wish.


It may be appropriate, depending on the circumstances and the nature of the misconduct, to attempt to correct a situation and prevent it from getting worse through advice or informal action, without using the Disciplinary Procedure.


Ensure that the employee understands the reason for the meeting and that if the misconduct re-occurs formal action may be taken.


A note of any preliminary meeting should be made and kept by the manager/headteacher (or their nominee) for reference purposes. 


Any preliminary meeting is not an investigatory interview therefore following the preliminary investigations, if it is decided that a more thorough investigation is required then a disciplinary investigation will need to take place as soon as possible and investigatory interview with the employee concerned.  

There are currently no template letters or resources available for this step of the disciplinary procedure.

However if there are any resources or templates you feel would be beneficial, please request these by contacting a member of the People Management Service.

If you would like advice, please contact the People Management Service via the People Management Portal link below and a member of the team will be in contact with you as soon as possible.

Link to: People Management Portal

If following initial preliminary enquires a fact finding meeting is required the employee concerned must be given details of the complaint or incident as far as it is known.  

The employee is entitled to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague.

If necessary the fact finding should include speaking to witnesses, including clients and members of the general public. 

In exceptional circumstances it may be that the fact finding cannot be completed because of circumstances outside the control of the council/school.

If, following the fact finding meeting the manager concludes the matter can still be resolved informally an attempt should be made to correct a situation and prevent it from getting worse through advice or informal action.  A brief note should be made and kept by the manager/headteacher for reference purposes.

The following resources and templates may be useful to use during this stage of the disciplinary process:

Link to: Initial Fact Find Letter

If you would like advice, please contact the People Management Service via the People Management Portal link below and a member of the team will be in contact with you as soon as possible.

Link to: People Management Portal

After the preliminary fact finding where alleged misconduct, if established, would be regarded as gross misconduct, consideration must be given whether to suspend the employee from work on normal pay.

When suspending an employee, he/she should be given the opportunity to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague at all meetings. 

Suspension, in itself is a neutral act and a precautionary measure and not a form of disciplinary action and will only apply when other alternatives have been considered.

Details of the reason for suspension must be given to the employee as soon as possible. 
It may be necessary to seek advice from your Directorate HR Team/School HR provider/Diocesan Officer on the appropriate course of action. 

Suspension should be kept under regular review, a minimum of once per month is recommended.

The decision to suspend must only be taken by the appropriate senior manager/headteacher following advice from HR as appropriate.

The following resources and templates may be useful to use during this stage of the disciplinary process:

Link to: Notification of an investigation including suspension

Link to: Review of Suspension Letter

Link to: Suspension from Duty and sickness letter

Request additional resources / templates

If there are any additional resources or templates that you feel would be beneficial, please let us know by contacting a member of the People Management Service.

If you would like advice, please contact the People Management Service via the People Management Portal link below and a member of the team will be in contact with you as soon as possible.

Link to: People Management Portal

In some cases further information than that provided by the preliminary enquiries will be needed.  In these cases a disciplinary investigation will need to be carried out. 


The purpose of the investigation is to establish the facts, to ask the employee for an explanation, to determine what happened and to obtain sufficient information for management to decide what action to take i.e. formal or informal action, welfare support, implementation of one of the council's other policies or to take no action at all. 


In most cases this will be carried out by the manager/headteacher of the employee who is the subject of disciplinary action. They will gather all relevant evidence and prepare a report which is clear and contains a summary of their findings based on the evidence seen. The report must contain an indication of whether there is any evidence to support the allegation.  


In potential gross misconduct cases separate Investigating Officer(s) may be required.
Whoever is responsible for the investigation, it should be completed as quickly as possible but should be thorough.  It should be carried out by an employee(s) of appropriate seniority in a confidential manner.

If you would like advice, please contact the People Management Service via the People Management Portal link below and a member of the team will be in contact with you as soon as possible.

Link to: People Management Portal

Where, on completion of an investigation / fact finding meeting there are reasonable grounds to believe that there could be a case to answer the employee will be invited to attend a formal disciplinary meeting chaired by a more senior manager.  In a school based setting the meeting will be conducted by the headteacher or the Disciplinary Committee of the Governing Body.

The employee is entitled to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague.  A representative of the Local Authority/Diocesan Authority in the case of a Church School will attend to advise the panel on the proceedings and will always attend when a possible outcome of the meeting could be dismissal.  Any advice given by the LA representative must be considered before any decision regarding the matter is taken.

The employee will be given at least 10 working days' notice of the meeting to allow them reasonable time to prepare their case.  Employees should make every effect to attend the meeting.

At the meeting the manager should explain the allegations against the employee and go through the evidence that has been gathered.  The employee should also be given a reasonable opportunity to ask questions, present evidence and call relevant witnesses.  Where the manager or employee intends to call relevant witnesses they should give advance notice that they intend to do this.


 

The following resources and templates may be useful to use during this stage of the disciplinary process:

Link to: Outcome of investigation- formal meeting letter

Link to: Procedure for Disciplinary meetings

Request additional resources / templates

If there are any additional resources or templates that you feel would be beneficial, please let us know by contacting a member of the People Management Service.

If you would like advice, please contact the People Management Service via the People Management Portal link below and a member of the team will be in contact with you as soon as possible.

Link to: People Management Portal

Other than in the case of gross misconduct, employees should not normally be dismissed for a first breach of discipline.

Where, following a disciplinary meeting the manager establishes that no misconduct has taken place; the employee will be informed that there is no case to answer and no disciplinary action to take.  

Where it is established that an employee has committed a disciplinary offence the following disciplinary action may be taken:

Stage 1 - Oral Warning -In cases of first minor breaches of discipline the employee should be given a recorded oral warning. 
Stage 2 - Written Warning- In cases of misconduct following a formal oral warning, or as a first stage for more serious offences, employees will receive a written warning. 
Stage 3- Final Written Warning - Where either a more serious disciplinary offence has been committed or further minor offences have been committed by an employee following a written warning that remains "live", the employee will receive a final written warning.
Stage 4 - Dismissal or other sanction- where further misconduct occurs following a final written warning that remains "live" the employee may be dismissed with notice or with pay in lieu of notice.

There may be occasions when, having taking into account all appropriate circumstances, it is decided that another sanction is appropriate.  This may include:

• Transfer
• Demotion/Loss of seniority

The above sanctions may be imposed in conjunction with other forms of disciplinary action, or as an alternative to dismissal.

The employee may appeal against any sanction imposed on them within 5 working days.

In cases of dismissal in schools where the local authority is the employer (Community and Voluntary Controlled), the dismissal letter from the panel must be followed by a further letter   from the local authority confirming the dismissal.  In these circumstances the school must contact the Director of Children's Services to advise them that a dismissal has taken place and provide a copy of the original dismissal letter from the Panel of Governors.

The following resources and templates may be useful to use during this stage of the disciplinary process:

Link to: Outcome of disciplinary meeting Letter

Link to: LA confirmation of dismissal letter - SCHOOLS ONLY

Request additional resources / templates

If there are any additional resources or templates that you feel would be beneficial, please let us know by contacting a member of the People Management Service.

If you would like advice, please contact the People Management Service via the People Management Portal link below and a member of the team will be in contact with you as soon as possible.

Link to: People Management Portal

All employees have the right of appeal against any disciplinary sanction imposed on them.  

The appeal will be heard by another senior manager who was not involved in the original meeting or decision and who will have the authority to overturn the original decision.  In the case of a decision by a Corporate Director of the county council the appeal shall be to another Corporate Director.  

Appeals against dismissal for misconduct will be heard by the Staffing Committee. 

In a school based setting the appeal will be heard by the Appeals Committee of the Governing Body.  A representative of the LA/Diocesan Authority in the case of a Church School will attend to advise the panel on the proceedings and will always attend when a possible outcome of the meeting could be dismissal.  Any advice given by the LA representative must be considered before any decision regarding the matter is taken.

Appeals should be lodged in writing within 5 working days of being informed of the disciplinary sanction.  

The following resources and templates may be useful to use during this stage of the disciplinary process:

Link to: Notification of appeal letter

Link to: Outcome of appeal letter

Request additional resources / templates

If there are any additional resources or templates that you feel would be beneficial, please let us know by contacting a member of the People Management Service.

If you would like advice, please contact the People Management Service via the People Management Portal link below and a member of the team will be in contact with you as soon as possible.

Link to: People Management Portal