Disciplinary Procedure

1. Introduction

1.1 This disciplinary procedure is designed to help employees to:

  • Fulfil the duties specified in their contract of employment.
  • Be honest and act beyond suspicion of dishonesty.
  • Maintain high standards of integrity and conduct to protect the council’s image and reputation with the public.

1.2 This policy indicates the disciplinary procedure that will normally be followed in the event of misconduct. The following list provides examples of conduct that will normally be regarded as misconduct leading to disciplinary proceedings. The list is not exhaustive. These are examples only:

  1. Unsatisfactory time keeping.
  2. Absenteeism, including any absence from work during a working day without prior authorisation or instruction.

iii. Failure to comply with rules and regulations applicable to job requirements.

  1. Failure by an employee to perform the duties and responsibilities of his or her post to the standard expected by the council.
  2. Any other conduct that from time to time is defined by the council as amounting to misconduct.

2. Scope

The procedure applies to all employees of Ewyas Harold Group Parish Council.

3. Principles

3.1 The primary objective of the Council’s Disciplinary Procedure is to encourage employees to improve and correct unacceptable behaviour or conduct rather than simply punish employees.

3.2 At every stage in the procedure the employee will be advised of the nature of the complaint against him/her and will be given the opportunity to state his/her case before any decision is made.

3.3 At every stage during the disciplinary procedure, the employee will have the right to be accompanied by a representative, who could be an official or a work colleague. The employee will be informed of this right in the letter requesting his/her attendance at meetings held under the procedure and again at the commencement of any meeting. Whenever possible the date and time of any hearing should be mutually agreed by all parties, including the chosen representative.

3.4 Employees will be provided with a written decision which will explain the disciplinary action being taken and set out the improvement or standard required.

3.5 An employee will have the right to appeal against any formal disciplinary penalty imposed.

3.6 As far as practicable, the aim is to deal with issues as thoroughly and promptly as possible.

4. Investigation

4.1 The council will investigate the alleged misconduct and will establish the facts surrounding the complaint as necessary, taking into account the statements of any available witnesses. The investigating officer (the chairman of the council) will arrange for an investigatory interview with the employee concerned. This should be done as quickly as possible in order to establish the facts before recollections and memories fade. Written notes of any meetings that take place will be made and used for future reference.

4.2 Having thoroughly investigated the facts, the chairman will be expected to come to a decision regarding the allegations, facts and other matters established during the investigations. This could involve a recommendation that the matter be dropped entirely, that it be referred to an informal hearing or that it should be referred to a formal disciplinary meeting. In the latter situation, a report will be prepared summarising the information and evidence obtained and the conclusions and recommendations for further action.

4.3 The council will set out in writing the alleged conduct or other circumstances which lead the council to contemplate taking disciplinary action against the employee and the basis for the allegation and will send the employee a copy of the statement inviting the employee to attend a disciplinary meeting to discuss the matter. The employee will be provided with a reasonable opportunity to consider his or her response to the information provided in the statement before attending the meeting. The employee must take all reasonable steps to attend the meeting.

5. Informal Action

5.1 For first instances of minor misconduct the employee’s manager or clerk may speak to the employee informally before implementing a formal disciplinary procedure. Such counselling may be confirmed in writing. However there is no obligation for the employee’s line manager or clerk to do this.

6. Formal Disciplinary Action

6.1 Before any disciplinary meeting the employee will be provided with full information of the allegations including the report of the chairman, witness statements and all relevant evidence/documents in good time to enable him/her to consider this with his/her representative prior to the disciplinary meeting.

6.2 Disciplinary meetings will normally be convened within 5 working days of the council sending the employee the written statement referred to in 4.3 above. The employee may be accompanied to any disciplinary meeting by a fellow employee or by a representative. The council will be represented by the chairman of the council. A further two councillors will act as presiding officers.

6.3 If the time or date proposed for the meeting is inconvenient (either for the employee or for the employees companion should he or she wish to be accompanied to the meeting pursuant to 6.2 above) the employee may ask to postpone the meeting by up to 5 working days.

6.4 At the meeting the procedure will be that the chairman will present the results of the investigation before the employee and will present any witnesses. The employee will be entitled to ask questions of the chairman and the witnesses. The employee will then be able to present his/her own case either him/ herself or through his/her representative and call any further witnesses. The employee will be required to respond to questioning by the chairman and the presiding officers at the meeting. All information placed before the presiding officers will be put in the presence of the employee and, if it is necessary to adjourn the hearing and reconvene for further information, this same principle will apply.

6.5 The meeting may be adjourned to allow matters raised during the course of the meeting to be investigated, or to afford the Council time to consider their decision.

6.6 After the meeting the council will inform the employee of their decision and any applicable sanction within 5 working days. The meeting may be reconvened for this purpose. The decision will be confirmed to the employee in writing.

7. Levels of Disciplinary Action

The following section explains the different levels of disciplinary action which may be taken against an employee.

7.1 Stage 1 Verbal Warnings

Verbal warnings are issued for most first instances of general misconduct, depending on the seriousness of the offence. If the employee is given a verbal warning he or she will be warned of the likely consequences of any further disciplinary offences or a failure to improve his or her conduct to the satisfaction of the council. A note confirming the verbal warning will be placed on the employees personnel file and a copy will be provided to the employee. A verbal warning will normally remain in force for 6 months.

The verbal warning stage of the procedure may be omitted if the offence is of a sufficiently serious nature.

7.2 Stage 2 First Written Warning

In the case of a serious offence or repetition of an earlier minor offence the employee will normally be given a first written warning. A first written warning will be issued by the employee’s line manager and will set out:

  1. the nature of the offence and the improvement required (if appropriate) and over what period;
  2. the likely consequences of any further offence or failure by the employee to improve his/her conduct to an acceptable standard;

iii. that further offences will result in more serious disciplinary action; and

  1. the employee’s right of appeal.

A first written warning will normally remain in force for 6 months. The first written warning

stage of the procedure may be omitted if the offence is of a sufficiently serious nature.

7.3 Final Written Warning

If further misconduct occurs within the time period specified in a first written warning, or if the misconduct is sufficiently serious the employee will be given a final written warning. A final written warning will be issued by the employee’s line manager and will set out:

  1. the nature of the offence and the improvement required (if appropriate) and over what period;
  2. the likely consequences of any further offence or a failure by the employee to improve his/her conduct to an acceptable standard;

iii. that further offences will result in more serious disciplinary action up to and including dismissal; and

  1. the employees right of appeal.

Final written warnings may also be issued in circumstances where the misconduct does not amount to gross misconduct, but is sufficiently serious enough to warrant only one written warning.

A final written warning will normally remain in force for 12 months.

7.4 Dismissal

If, whilst a final warning is still in force, conduct or performance remains unsatisfactory and the employee still fails to reach the prescribed standards, this will normally result in dismissal.

This action may be taken only by the chairman of the council on the authority of the full council.

7.5 Gross Misconduct

7.5.1 The following list provides examples of conduct that will normally be regarded by the council as Gross Misconduct. This list is not exhaustive. These are examples only:

  1. Refusal or repeated failure by an employee to carry out his or her duties.
  2. Falsification of documents or information (including expense claims).

iii. Unauthorised disclosure of confidential information.

  1. Assaulting a fellow employee or any other person whilst acting or purporting to act on behalf of the council.
  2. Insulting, indecent or offensive behaviour towards a fellow employee or any other person whilst acting or purporting to act on behalf of the council.
  3. Serious or repeated harassment (including sexual and racial harassment).

vii. Incapacity at work due to the influence of alcohol, unprescribed drugs or any other substance.

viii. Wilful damage to council property.

  1. Theft, unauthorised use or possession of council property or theft of the property of a fellow employee.
  2. Conduct bringing the council into disrepute.
  3. Any other conduct that from time to time is defined by the council as amounting to gross misconduct.

7.5.2 If an employee is accused of any Gross Misconduct he/she may be suspended from work on full pay pending the outcome of an investigation into the alleged offence(s). Such a period of suspension will not normally exceed 10 working days unless there are exceptional circumstances.

7.5.3 The council will investigate the matter and will establish the facts surrounding the complaint as necessary, taking into account the statements of any available witnesses. As part of that investigation the employee will be interviewed.

7.5.4 If the council believes the employee is guilty of gross misconduct his/her employment will be terminated summarily without notice or pay in lieu of notice.

7.5.5 The council will send the employee a statement, setting out the allegations of misconduct that led to the employee’s dismissal and the council’s basis for thinking that the employee is guilty of that misconduct. The date on which the employment terminated will be confirmed to the employee and the employee may be reminded of any continuing obligations he or she may have following the

termination of employment. This statement will also explain the employee’s right to appeal against the council’s decision.

8. Appeals

8.1 If the employee wishes to appeal against the decision he or she must notify the chairman of the council in writing within 5 days of receiving written notice of the decision stating the reason for the appeal. Receipt of the appeal will be acknowledged within two working days.

8.2 If the employee notifies the council that he or she wishes to appeal, the employee will be invited to attend a disciplinary appeal meeting before the Council.

8.3 The appeal will be considered by a member of the full parish council not previously involved with the matter.

8.4 The employee has the right to be accompanied to a disciplinary appeal meeting by a fellow employee or by a representative.

8.5 A disciplinary appeal meeting will normally be convened within 7 working days of the council receiving notification that the employee wishes to appeal. If the meeting date is inconvenient for the employee or the employee’s companion he or she may ask to postpone the meeting by up to 5 working days.

8.6 The disciplinary appeal meeting will not necessarily take place before any disciplinary sanction imposed by the council takes effect. If the employees appeal is against dismissal and the appeal is successful he or she will be reinstated and continuity of employment will be preserved

8.7 Below is the procedure for disciplinary appeal meeting:

  1. The disciplinary appeal meeting will be heard by a nominated panel comprising the councillor reviewing the appeal in 8.3 and two other councillors not previously involved in the matter.
  2. The chairman will put the case in the presence of the employee and his/her representative and may call witnesses.

iii. The employee (or his/her representative) will have the opportunity to ask questions of the chairman and any witnesses who are called by that person.

  1. Any new evidence that the employee wishes to put forward will be considered as will any new evidence from the council.
  2. The chairman will have the opportunity to re-examine witnesses
  3. The panel may ask questions of the chairman and witnesses.

vii. The employee (or his/her representative) will put his/her case in the presence of the chairman and may call witnesses.

viii. The chairman will have the opportunity to ask questions of the employee and any witnesses.

  1. The employee (or his/her representative) will have the opportunity to re-examine witnesses.
  2. The panel may ask questions of the employee and any witnesses.
  3. Witnesses will only stay in the room whilst they are giving evidence or are being questioned. They will leave the room as soon as they have finished.

xii. The chairman and the employee (or his/her representative) may sum up their cases if they so wish.

xiii. The chairman and the employee and his/her representative and witnesses will withdraw from the disciplinary appeal meeting.

xiv. The panel will consider the facts in private, only recalling the chairman and the employee to clarify points of uncertainty on evidence already given. If recall is necessary, both parties are to return notwithstanding that only one is concerned with the point giving rise to doubt.

  1. The disciplinary sanction originally imposed cannot be increased upon appeal.

xvi. The meeting may be adjourned to allow matters raised during the course of the meeting to be investigated, or to afford the review panel time to consider its decision.

xvii. After the disciplinary appeal meeting the council will inform the employee of its final decision within 5 working days. The meeting may be reconvened for this purpose. The decision will be confirmed to the employee in writing.

9. Disciplinary Action Instigated Against the Clerk

9.1 Where disciplinary proceedings are instigated against the clerk all employee relations matters are dealt with by the chairman of the council. Any investigations, meetings or disciplinary appeal meetings will be carried out by a nominated panel of the council.

Adopted at the parish council meeting on 14th June 2016