How Inadequate Disciplinary Procedures May Lead To Unfair Dismissals

Last Updated: 

October 30, 2022

Online Business Startup

Employee termination is one of the most delicate aspects of HR operations. In an ideal world, employees and employers part ways after termination, and things get back to usual. But the picture is different as employees may sue employers for unfair dismissals. These lawsuits are expensive and time-consuming and cause extensive damage to business reputation. It is crucial to ensure you do not terminate employees without valid reasons. Everything boils down to having correct and honest disciplinary procedures in place because flawed ones may lead to unfair dismissals and bring lawsuits to your company. Let us explain how the risk goes up.

A flawed disciplinary policy

Things can go wrong at the very basic level if your disciplinary policy is flawed or inadequate. For example, you cannot hold an employee liable for smelling of alcohol when coming to work if your policy does not ban drinking alcohol shortly before reporting. The employee may get away with an unfair dismissal claim only because of an improper or missing clause in the company policy.

Reason for dismissal not given

Failure to give the employee the reason for their dismissal indicates procedural gas in the disciplinary process. An employer must provide the details of the allegations and reasons for the action to the employee well before the disciplinary hearing. Not doing so puts the employee in a vantage position as they can sue the company for terminating them wrongfully without even a chance to establish their side.

Going wrong with the disciplinary investigation

A company cannot terminate an employee for misconduct or a breach of discipline without conducting a fair investigation in the first place. An unfair disciplinary investigation is a solid ground for bringing an unfair dismissal claim against an employer. Businesses must maintain a proper investigative procedure with complete documents to ensure they do not go wrong on this front. The last thing you should do is rush with the investigations only to complete the termination at the earliest.

Dismissing employees without following a procedure

Not following the established disciplinary procedure is one of the most common reasons for facing unfair dismissal claims. The best way to avert the risk is by defining a procedure in the first place and following it every time you plan employee termination for misconduct. Ensure that employees know these procedures thoroughly right from the time of induction and along the way if there are changes in them.

Inappropriate decision makers

According to the ACAS code, different people should oversee the investigation and the disciplinary meeting. Further,  another person should look after appeals to eliminate bias from the entire disciplinary process. If the employee can prove failure to follow these rules, the employer can find themselves facing an unfair dismissal claim. It is vital to ensure that the appeal decision-maker is appropriate according to the law.

Employee dismissal is a crucial concern for any business owner because it can bring lawsuits if found unfair. The best way to avoid such situations is by having fair disciplinary procedures backing the termination process. 

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