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The Discipline of Applying Discipline

Posted On - 20/10/2014 10:44:50

There's no point in having standards unless they're implemented. That's when formal discipline comes to bear. And that's what this blog is about.In previous blogs we've talked about the importance of standards in an ethical business. And while they capture what's fair, they're squarely aimed at what's best for the business.

We've also spoken about how real genuine teamwork rests on everyone improving everyone's performance. That conversations regarding conduct and performance should be completely acceptable, normal and expected. Just a natural part of everyday working life. But what happens when people don't meet the standards? What happens where they're flagrantly – possibly deliberately – broken?

There's no point in having standards unless they're implemented. That's when formal discipline comes to bear. And that's what this blog is about.

Let's get something straight

When it comes to everything relating to formal discipline, you have to abide by the law.If you think this unnecessary bureaucracy or it doesn't apply to you WAKE UP.

The law applies to all businesses regardless of size and it works the way it does to protect everyone's interests.

It protects employees from unscrupulous employers firing on whim or irrationally discriminating. It protects employers from dishonest employees protesting ignorance over conduct or performance problems, or claiming they weren't given a chance to improve.

The progressive stages of informal then formal discussion underpin a process. The requirement to document meetings and agreements generates evidence. The need to always establish facts first, then meet and discuss matters before jumping to conclusions makes sure rational action happens in all circumstances.

These things don't exist for the sake of it they have been forged from years of unfair practices. They are the right – the ethical – thing to do.

Guaranteed failure

No business is exempt from the threat of tribunal. And while we're not going to describe how all that works here – see ‘Employment Tribunals | ACAS Advice and Guidance' – we mention it so you're clear on something.

Critically, tribunals are themselves legally required to consider ‘ACAS Code of Practice 1 – Discipline and Grievance Procedures' when considering cases.

That means they're looking for ACAS compliant procedures to be used, and that the evidence exists that can prove they have. Should they find ACAS procedures haven't been followed, it's pretty much certain you will lose.

Regardless of authenticity or credibility of the dispute, if you haven't used and abided by procedure, you won't have a leg to stand on.

What's more, compensatory awards can be adjusted by up to +25% for unreasonable failure to comply. So what? Well, do you want a £74,000 bill for ‘unfair dismissal'?

This means the consequences of a dispute could easily wipe you out. An ethical business simply does not expose itself to this sort of risk.

Oh, that's gross

Gross misconduct: the worst thing that could happen. Theft, violence, property damage, insubordination, misuse of company property, discrimination and so on, you'll know and be clear when you've a case on your hands. And while it may be really unpalatable to contemplate, it's actually quite easy to deal with.

It's obvious when it happens.

You'll be happy to deal with it.

You'll feel better when you have.

BUTyou can't just sack people on the spotyou must follow the relevant procedure – see gross miscondut in ‘Discipline and Grievances at Work: The ACAS Guide'.

If you encounter gross misconduct it may be really unpleasant but you have nothing to be scared about. Just make sure you follow procedure.

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