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Disciplinary

Disciplinary Rules and Procedures are designed to help and encourage you to achieve and maintain standards of conduct, behaviour and attendance in the workplace.  They also ensure fairness and consistency in the treatment of all employees.

 It does not deal with:

  • sickness absence (other than unauthorised absence and abuse of the Sickness Absence Policy),
  • work performance/capability,
  • redundancy
  • bullying and harassment investigations

All of which are dealt with by the Sickness Absence Policy, Capability Policy, Redundancy Policy and Behavioural Standards guidance

You have the right to be accompanied by a companion, at all formal stages of this procedure. A companion can be:

  • a trade union representative or official
  • a work colleague.

If you choose to be accompanied copies of capability meeting notices, meeting notes, response letter, etc will be sent to that person, unless you advise otherwise, in writing.

A minimum of 14 calendar day’s written notice of a disciplinary hearing will be given to you (except in cases of Gross Misconduct where it may be appropriate to deal with the matter as quickly as possible). This notice period can be reduced by mutual agreement but should be long enough to give you time to prepare.

In the written notification of the hearing you will be advised of the nature of the complaint and will be provided with written copies of evidence and relevant witness statements in advance of a disciplinary hearing.

At the hearing you will be given the opportunity to state your case before any decision is made by the disciplinary panel.

Support and counselling may be offered to you if you are involved in disciplinary investigation and hearings. Please contact PM HR team for advice.

Investigating Officers and Disciplinary Hearing Panel members must consider your needs during the process if you are disabled and make reasonable adjustments as necessary.

For example, ensuring that locations have appropriate access, written information is provided in a suitable format, etc.

The following is provided as guidance only as there may be situations that mean roles and responsibilities need to change.

People Management (PM).

To ensure consistency, the PM HR Team will provide advice at every stage of the procedure and will monitor and report on the application of the Policy. PM will also be responsible for ensuring that written records are retained on personal files for the appropriate period and following the principles of the Data Protection Act.

Investigating Officers

The investigation is usually carried out by your line manager (with advice from PM), who will be responsible for interviewing you, witnesses, taking notes etc. Once the facts are established a written report will be produced outlining the recommendation whether or not there is a disciplinary case to answer or not.

Disciplinary Hearing Panel

If there is a case to answer then a disciplinary panel will be convened to hear the facts presented by the Investigating Officer and decide whether or not disciplinary action is appropriate. The Panel will usually consist of a representative from your Department (Director or Head of Service or a nominated representative), a HR Advisor, and a note taker (provided by your department).

When a potential disciplinary matter arises, it should be investigated by an Investigating Officer in line with the Investigation Policy. Written records of any interviews with you or any witnesses will be kept. Once the Investigating Officer has established the facts, they will produce a written report outlining their findings and any recommendations. If, the matter is considered and it is decided not to refer the matter to a formal disciplinary hearing, a written report will not be necessary and the matter will be dealt with informally.

If the issue is minor then it may be dealt with informally. Your manager will discuss the matter with you and offer you appropriate support to help you improve such as additional training, coaching or advice (if appropriate).   A note will be made of the interview and its outcome, which will be retained by your manager and a copy given to you.

As this is an informal one to one meeting you will not usually have the right to be accompanied by a companion.

If you are unable to improve following informal action or the issue is too serious to be classed as minor, then it will be dealt with through the formal procedure.

A disciplinary hearing will be set up and you will be informed of the following in writing to enable you to prepare to answer the case, including witness statements and any other relevant documents:

  • the date, time and location of the hearing;
  • the right to be accompanied;
  • the procedure to be followed;
  • enough information about the alleged misconduct; and
  • the possible penalty

Where you or the Investigating Officer intends to call relevant witnesses you should give advance notice that you intend to do so.

At the hearing, the Panel will explain the complaint against you and go through the evidence that has been gathered. You will be allowed to explain your case and answer any allegations that have been made. You will be allowed to ask questions, present evidence, call witnesses and raise points about any information provided by witnesses.

At the end of the hearing, the Panel will decide whether disciplinary action is right and if so, what that will be. The decision may not be made on the same day but will be confirmed in writing within 2 working days. If this is not practical, this time limit can be extended by mutual agreement.

The following are examples of misconduct but depending on the type or seriousness may be treated as gross misconduct.

  • Poor time keeping
  • Refusal to follow a reasonable instruction
  • Security breaches
  • Unauthorised absence from work
  • Negligence
  • Criminal acts (whether or not the police authorities have decided to prosecute)
  • Breach of health and safety rules
  • Inappropriate use of the Authority’s IT systems, telephones and other communication systems

If there is a serious breach of your contract, this may result in your dismissal, even for a first offence, as it will be considered as gross misconduct.
Examples include:

  • Theft or fraud
  • Physical violence or bullying
  • Deliberate and serious damage to property
  • Serious misuse of the Authority’s property or name
  • Using the Authority’s IT equipment and/or network to access or publish pornographic, offensive or obscene material
  • Action resulting in a serious breakdown in trust and confidence between the employer and employee
  • Serious insubordination
  • Unlawful discrimination or harassment
  • Bringing the Authority into serious disrepute
  • Serious incapability at work brought on by alcohol or drugs
  • Causing loss, damage or injury through serious negligence
  • Serious breach of health and safety rules
  • Unauthorised removal of Authority property
  • Physical, verbal, financial, psychological or emotional abuse of any person
  • Putting colleagues, clients or customers of the Authority at personal risk of harm

This is not a complete list as other matters can also be considered to be gross misconduct.

Reporting to a professional body

In some cases it will be required to report the allegations and outcome to report to the professional bodies such as the Care Council for Wales, General Teaching Council for Wales and to the Disclosure and Barring Service.

Where the Panel agrees that disciplinary action is appropriate it must decide what this will be and inform you in writing. Before making this decision, the Panel should consider the following:

  • whether the Authority’s rules point out a likely penalty because of a type of misconduct;
  • the penalty given in similar cases;
  • whether the standards of other employees are acceptable and consistent;
  • your disciplinary record (including current warnings), general work record, work experience, position and length of service;
  • any facts that may mitigate the case to be considered to adjust the severity of the penalty, if appropriate;
  • whether any training, additional support or adjustments to the work area are necessary; and most importantly;
  • whether the action is reasonable under the circumstances.

A written warning is normally issued by a panel for an initial breach of discipline or where it is reasonable in the circumstances. In the confirmation letter, you will be informed of:

  • The nature of the misconduct;
  • Any period of time given for improvement and the improvement expected;
  • The disciplinary penalty and, where appropriate how long it will last;
  • The likely outcome of further misconduct within a set period following the warning. (e.g. final written warning and ultimately dismissal);
  • The timescale for lodging an appeal; and
  • The warning will be placed on the personal file.

A final written warning is normally issued when you:

  • do not improve or change your behaviour despite a written warning;
  • commit other unrelated offences within the time limit of the initial warning; or
  • the offence is suitably serious.

The content of the outcome letter will be similar to the outcome letter for a written warning but will explain what will happen if there is further misconduct including dismissal or some other penalty.

If you do not improve or change your behaviour or there are further breaches within the time limit of the previous warning, then dismissal or another penalty will be considered. As an alternative to dismissal (if appropriate), the panel may consider a final written warning alongside another penalty if it is reasonable in the circumstances.

Other penalties include:

  • Demotion (permanent and temporary) – if temporary the period of demotion must be set out in the letter to you;
  • Reduction in salary (permanent and temporary) - . if temporary the period of reduction must be set out in the letter to you;
  • Disciplinary transfer to another job or department.

If an alternative penalty to dismissal is agreed, you will be advised in writing that any continuing breach within the time limit may result in your dismissal.

In most cases, written warnings will be kept on your personal file but will be disregarded for disciplinary purposes as follows:

  • First written warning – After 12 months
  • Final written warning – After 18 months

However there may be times when your conduct is acceptable during the time of the warning only to slip after it has finished. Where a pattern emerges and/or there is evidence of abuse, your disciplinary record will be considered by the panel when deciding how long a warning should last.

If you raise a grievance during a disciplinary process, your Departmental Director or his/her representative will consider if it is appropriate to temporarily suspend the disciplinary process to deal with the grievance.

Where the disciplinary and grievance cases are related it may be appropriate to deal with them both at the same time.

Any delay in the disciplinary process should not be unnecessarily delayed and help the grievance to be dealt with as quickly as possible. Advice should be sought from the PM HR Team.

If disciplinary action is being considered against you and you are a trade union official the normal disciplinary procedure will be followed. Your manager must seek advice at an early stage from the PM HR Team.

If you are charged with, cautioned or convicted of, a criminal offence which is not related to work, this is not in itself reason for disciplinary action. The facts will have to be investigated and a decision made whether the offence is serious enough or relevant to your job.

You have the right of appeal against disciplinary action (excluding informal action) on the following grounds:

  • If you think the penalty is unfair or unreasonable in the circumstances;
  • New evidence comes to light which could have affected the outcome of the disciplinary hearing;
  • Failure to follow procedures.

The appeal should be made in writing wherever possible, to the Assistant Chief Executive (PM) within 14 calendar days of receipt of the disciplinary or dismissal letter. The appeal letter should give detailed reasons for appeal and will be acknowledged within 14 calendar days. Employees who need advice when submitting an appeal should contact the PM HR Team or their Trade Union representative.

The Assistant Chief Executive (PM) will arrange an appeals panel to consider the appeal. For disciplinary sanctions that fall short of dismissal the appeals panel will comprise of two Directors (or their nominated Head of Service) and a member of the Executive Board. The Appeal Hearing should be held at a reasonable time and place. This should take place as soon as possible and you should take all reasonable steps to attend.         

The Staff Appeal Panel (which is made up of Councillors advised by PM HR Team and Legal Services as appropriate) hears all disciplinary dismissal appeals.

The Appeal Hearing and decision is final and there is no further right of appeal within the Council.

Written records will be kept throughout the disciplinary process, including:

  • The complaint against you
  • Your defence
  • Findings made and actions taken
  • The reasons for actions taken
  • Whether an appeal was lodged
  • The outcome of the appeal
  • Any grievances raised during the disciplinary procedure, and
  • Subsequent developments
  • A copy of all correspondence relating to the disciplinary investigation, hearing and appeal process
  • Copies of notes of any formal meetings.

Records should be retained on your personal file.

Records should be treated as confidential and kept in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

All Officers and Councillors involved in the disciplinary process will receive appropriate support and/or training. Visit the Learning & Development section of the intranet for more information.

This policy must be applied consistently to all employees irrespective of race, colour, ethnic or national origins (including citizenship), language, disability, religion, belief or non belief, age, sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, parental or marital/civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity.

If you have any equality and diversity concerns in relation to the application of this policy and procedure, please contact a member of the HR Team who will, if necessary, ensure the policy/procedure is reviewed accordingly.

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Page updated: 26/03/2018 09:28:37