ACAS has published new guidance on best practice when conducting disciplinaries and/or grievances during these unprecedented times.
Many employees are currently on leave, have been Furloughed or are simply working from home. But following the correct procedures for disciplinaries and grievances is still important – and non-compliance can potentially incur an increase in any award should a matter proceed to the Employment Tribunal. However, whilst it is important to follow ACAS guidelines as much as is practical at the moment, it should also be noted that these are guidelines only.
ACAS has clarified that an employer can continue with disciplinaries or grievances but must do so in line with current public health guidelines (i.e. social distancing). It has also advised that employers should give careful consideration to the health and wellbeing of its employees when deciding whether and how to proceed at this time.
Continuing with a disciplinary or grievance may require telephone or video conferencing where employees are working from home or have been Furloughed. Employers should therefore consider whether this can be done fairly. Issues such as whether everyone has the right technology to hand, whether this method would affect disabled employees more, allowing for extra time, being mindful or others in the house and how such methods would affect witnesses or companions should all be discussed.
ACAS has clarified also that Furloughed employees can still raise a grievance, attend as a witness or companion and even be asked to attend a disciplinary hearing but that they should agree to do so and all public health guidance should be followed.
Ultimately, an Employment Tribunal will always consider whether an employer acted reasonably in all the circumstances taking into account the size and nature of an employers’ business.
For any assistance with arranging and conducting either disciplinaries or grievances during lockdown and beyond, please contact our Head of Employment, Ilinca Mardarescu.