The statutory dismissal procedure does not only apply to disciplinary cases. It must be followed when an employer is contemplating the dismissal of an employee for any of the following reasons: Conduct, Capability, Redundancy, Non-renewal of a fixed term contract, Compulsory early retirement.
All your procedures relating to these actions need to be updated to reflect the new requirements. The statutory process also applies where employers take other disciplinary action such as demotion or unpaid suspension.
Two new procedures apply in this area. These are:
Step 1: A written statement dealing with the allegations or characteristics that led the employer to begin the process including an invitation to a meeting to discuss the matter.
Step 2: Before any action takes place the meeting must occur after the employee has had time to consider his or her response to Step 1. After the meeting the employer informs the employee of the decision and notifies him/her of their right to appeal.
Step 3: An appeal hearing must take place if requested by the employee after which the final decision is communicated.
Not too difficult, but what must be stated in the invitation, how it is delivered, whether a “companion” must be invited and the process during the hearing are all critical issues. The timing of hearings, even after dismissal, the actions taken upon the non-attendance of the employee and the number of times the procedure is followed before a dismissal occurs all determine the likelihood of success or failure if a case of Unfair Dismissal is brought.
The second procedure called the “Modified Procedure”. This could apply to a very small proportion of Gross Misconduct cases. However, this is even more confusing as it can only be used where a Tribunal will agree that it was reasonable for the employer to dismiss the employee before enquiring into the circumstances in which the conduct took place. Our advice is therefore to ignore this procedure entirely – as such circumstances are so rare as to make this procedure almost superfluous.