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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - What can we do if an employee fails to turn up to a disciplinary hearing?
    If it's the first time, give them the benefit of the doubt and re-schedule the hearing. Immediately write to them with the new date and also inform them that unless there's a very good reason, they're expected to attend. However, if they're already absent from work and their absence is long term, such as stress-related sickness absence, this could be tricky as it's possible the employee will argue that they're mentally incapable of going through a disciplinary hearing. So even if you think that this is...
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - Can we rely on an expired warning when deciding whether to dismiss?
    No, in general, expired or "spent" warnings should not be taken into account when deciding whether to dismiss, though there are limited exceptions. Therefore, you shouldn't rely on any expired warnings as a matter of course, but only in a rare case can it be considered along with all other circumstances. Take legal advice if you think this is one of those rare cases. Instead, you would be better off retaining the right in your disciplinary procedure to extend the duration of warnings beyond the normal period...
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - A witness has asked to remain anonymous. Can we allow this?
    Anonymity will usually be requested if the witness fears some sort of reprisal from those under investigation, e.g. concerns over verbal abuse or violence. So if a witness can demonstrate that they've a genuine reason to fear some form of retribution, you should allow them to remain anonymous. To confirm this, the person chairing the disciplinary hearing should interview the witness to ascertain that their evidence is reliable and to make sure that they aren't being malicious. Tip. If you do allow a witness...
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - Is an employee entitled to have a companion at informal disciplinary discussions?
    No. The disciplinary and dismissal regime doesn't apply to informal meetings, such as disciplinary discussions and investigatory meetings, so an employee has no right to have a representative. However, in some circumstances, you may need to be flexible and allow a companion to attend, e.g. if the employee has learning difficulties, or speaks English as a second language. Tip. Only workplace colleagues and accredited trade union representatives or trade union officials can act as companions at formal...
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - Can we move straight to a final written warning?
    Yes. Contrary to popular opinion (particularly amongst employees), it's possible to go straight to a final written warning. However, it's only really acceptable for a first instance of serious misconduct, which isn't quite enough to qualify as gross misconduct (and so doesn't warrant summary dismissal). Alternatively, one can be given where there has been an incident of serious poor performance. But don't forget that you still need to carry out a proper investigation first and then hold a formal disciplinary...
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - What happens if an employee raises a grievance during disciplinary proceedings?
    The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures states that where an employee raises a grievance and the two are related, then it's appropriate to deal with them together. However, where the grievance isn't related, the Acas Code states that the disciplinary process may be temporarily suspended in order to deal with the grievance. Use common sense. If the employee's grievance is, for example, that they are being bullied or harassed or are highly stressed by their workload, it would be...
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