Disciplinary Procedures Are to Alter; Small Business

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Byline: GRAHAM RICHARDSON

EMPLOYERS will breathe a sigh of relief on April 6 when the Statutory Dismissal and Disciplinary Procedures (SDDP) and the Statutory Grievance Procedures are abolished and replaced with an ACAS Code of Practice (the code).

The code introduces some important changes: 1. Unlike a failure to follow the SDDP, a failure to follow the code when dismissing an employee will not automatically lead to a finding of unfair dismissal. However tribunals will take the code into account when determining the fairness of a dismissal.

2. Tribunals will have the power to increase awards of compensation upwards by up to 25% for unreasonable failure on the part of an employer to comply with the provisions of the code and downwards by the same amount where the failure is on the part of the emplo yee.

3. Bringing a grievance will no longer be a precondition of an employee bringing a tribunal claim.

Although the code will not radically change the way employers deal with disciplinary and grievance matters on a day-to-day basis, the following provisions in the code are noteworthy:

Employees and where appropriate, their representatives, should be involved in the development of dismissal, disciplinary and grievance procedures

The code does not apply to dismissals due to redundancy or the non-renewal of fixed-term contracts on their expiry

In misconduct cases, if possible, different people should carry out investigations and disciplinary meetings. …