Employee raising a grievance during disciplinary proceedings

The balance of rights under UK Employment Law

Currently under UK employment law there exists a fine balance between the rights of an employer and an employee. For example if the employee has committed some more of misconduct then the employer will be perfectly within their rights to take some form of disciplinary action against that employee. However, during the disciplinary proceedings the employer must also respect the various rights of the employee which are imposed by Employment Law.

Situation where an employee brings to the attention of their employer a grievance during disciplinary proceedings

Disciplinary hearing

When must an employer undertake a disciplinary hearing?

In the situation whereby an employer has reason to believe that an employee may be guilty of misconduct which could lead to them being dismissed that employer should undertake a thorough investigation in relation to the wrongdoing.

Following this thorough investigation the employee must be given a chance to state their case and for the employer to properly consider and representations made by that employee. Only following this hearing should an employer take the decision on whether that employee is guilty and what sanction should be imposed.

What happens if an employee brings a grievance to my attention prior to the disciplinary hearing?

The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures

When dealing with this kind of issue the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures states that the disciplinary process may be suspended in order to deal with the grievance.

Does this mean that the disciplinary process has to be suspended?

This does not mean that the disciplinary process has to be suspended in order to hear out the grievance of the employee. As the Acas Code states that this may be suspended it firmly leaves the decision whether to suspend it to the discretion of the employer.

What issues should be taken into consideration?

When an employer is informed of a grievance from an employee who is to be the subject of disciplinary procedures the following factors should be taken into consideration:

  • Whether the subject matter deals with the same subject matter as the disciplinary hearing
  • ¬†Whether the grievance involves an issue that the employer was unaware of

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For more information on:

  • The same subject matter
  • What happens if there is no connection?
  • Issue that the employer was not aware of
  • What should an employer do in this situation?
  • Can an employer decide to combine the disciplinary and grievance procedures?