New UK Laws On Staff Dispute Resolution And Disciplinary Procedures

In a recent twelve month period, the UK employment tribunal service received over 94,000 claims. But research showed that in more than 33% of cases, the employee and his or her manager had not had any prior discussion about the problem.

The new legislation in the Employment Act aims to address these problems by:

  • encouraging both employers and employees to discuss disputes
  • promoting alternative ways to resolve disputes
  • enabling the employment tribunal system to work more effectively.

Since October 2004, all employers and employees have been required to follow a new three-step process when dealing with most dismissals, disciplinary actions or grievances. If they don’t, they could face a financial penalty should a dispute reach
a tribunal.

The Stages In This New Three-Step Process Are As Follows:

1. Write a letter explaining the issue If an employer is considering disciplinary action, he must put the reasons for this in writing to the employee. Similarly, if the employee has a grievance against his employer, he must put it in writing in a letter to his employer.

2. Have a meeting to discuss the issue A face to face meeting must take place between the employer and the employee to discuss the issues raised in the letter. There must be a suitable amount of time prior to the meeting for the recipient of the letter to consider the other party’s complaint. Following the meeting, the employee must be informed of the employer’s decision and notified of their right to appeal.

3.Have an appeal meeting if required This may happen after sanctions have already been imposed. The employer must inform the employee of the outcome of the appeal.

The above standards are intended to be a minimum which must be met by all UK employers. However, so long as these minimum standards are complied with, companies are free to personalise the procedures to suit the needs of their own business.

If an employer fails to follow the new rules, then any award made to the employee by a tribunal will be increased by a minimum of 10% up to a maximum of 50%. If the employee fails to follow the procedure, any award they are adjudged to receive is reduced by a minimum of 10% up to a maximum of 50%.

In Light Of The New Regulations, All Businesses Need To:

  • Understand the new law.
  • Review existing disciplinary and grievance procedure
  • Put in place new procedures where none exist
  • Inform employees of their new rights and where they can go to obtain more informatiom
  • Update company documents such as the employee handbook to reflect the new legislation
  • Follow the new three-step process when dealing with any disciplinary matters of staff grievances

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