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Essential skills for supervisors and manangers

Accurate records of disciplinary action are important. They enable management to take a worker’s past record fully into account when deciding what action to take when any breach of the rules has occurred, and they help management to apply disciplinary rules fairly and consistently. Disciplinary records may also provide important evidence if a worker makes a claim to an employment tribunal that they have been unfairly or wrongfully dismissed. Most disciplinary action taken against a worker should be recorded, apart from informal verbal admonishments. Figure 12 (p36) is an example of an individual discipline record. Most warnings should be disregarded for disciplinary purposes after a specific period (eg 12 months for a first written warning) subject to satisfactory conduct and performance. Some organisations have a ‘wipe-clean’ policy, whereby any warnings are removed from the worker’s record after a certain period of satisfactory conduct and performance. In these cases the records need to be in a format easily altered. This is often done by simply removing the sheet containing the record, or deleting it from any computer record, and making sure there is no reference to it anywhere else in any files referring to that worker. A copy of any record of disciplinary action should be given to the worker, their line manager and their worker representative if appropriate. If such copies are provided, and a ‘wipeclean’ provision comes into effect, then those in receipt must be told to destroy their copies too. Whilst grievances are often dealt with informally, or by line management intervention, it is good practice to keep a record of any grievance raised and the manner by which it has been resolved. This is particularly important if grievances need to go beyond the ‘informal’ and a worker raising the grievance considers invoking their right to be accompanied at any hearing. Clearly, accurate records of such meetings are necessary so that all parties understand the issues and any action decisions16. The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and grievance procedures sets out principles for handling disciplinary and grievance situations in the workplace. These include: • informing the employee of the problem • holding a meeting to discuss the problem • allowing the employee to be accompanied • deciding on the appropriate action • providing employees with an opportunity to appeal • employment tribunals are legally required to take the Code into account when considering relevant cases. Tribunals will also be able to adjust any compensatory awards made in these cases by up to 25 per cent for unreasonable failure to comply with any provision of the Code. Termination of employment Any termination of employment, whatever the reason, should be properly documented. Requests for references (and copies of those given), should be kept as, subject to the Data Protection Act 1998, ex-workers may ask for details. Any employment tribunal would also expect the organisation to hold some record of any termination – at the very least to show what monies may have been paid (eg redundancy pay, notice pay, outstanding holiday pay, pension entitlements etc). Documentation about dismissal is essential to answer any question of unfair procedure or discrimination.