10 tips to help you tackle discipline in the work place

Disciplinary in the workplace can be the most difficult part of managing your relationship with your employees. If you reach the point of no return and need to terminate the contract of an employee, the stressful nature of the situation can often fill employers with dread. Here’s our top 10 tips to help you deal with discipline in your business and ensure you are protected from any future employment tribunal claims.
1. Notify the employee of their misconduct in writing and invite them to a disciplinary meeting to discuss the consequences and next steps. Hold the meeting early in the week in a private and neutral location.
2. Ensure you have two other impartial employees present at the meeting to act as witnesses. This will help you avoid any ‘he said, she said’ disputes arising in the future or any misunderstanding of what occurred or what was said during the meeting.
3. Anticipate reactions. From what you know about the employee, try to anticipate how they will react to the disciplinary and pre-empt their questions and response. By taking time to prepare for all eventualities in advance you will be able to stay calm, control the meeting and be best placed to lead it to a successful conclusion.
4. Keep the meeting short and stick to the facts. It needn’t take any longer than 10 to 15 minutes. Simply cover the reasons for discipline or termination and focus on how the employees conduct contravened the company’s policies. Provide a short, clear statement about the decision, next steps and how logistical details will be handled.
5. Avoid getting into an argument or debate over the misconduct, this will only lead to a more stressful situation for you and your employee. Keep the meeting formal and professional and avoid getting upset, angry, raising your voice or using forceful words or behaviour.
6. Avoid any misunderstandings. Be firm and clearly communicate your policies on the poor conduct you are dealing with. Focus on the consequences of the conduct and the actions you will take next. By making sure you provide a written notice to the employee, and requiring their signature to confirm they understand the situation, you will avoid any misunderstandings or confusion in the future.
7. A written paper trail will help cover your back in the event of any disputes in the future. Ensure you document everything in the employee’s personnel file, including:

  • The nature of the misconduct and date it occurred
  • The nature of discipline imposed and date it was communicated to the employee
  • The invitation to a disciplinary meeting
  • Attendance of everyone present at the meeting
  • The minutes of the meeting
  • Supporting evidence of the misconduct
  • Written notification of the disciplinary procedure, signed by the employee to confirm their understanding of the situation.

8. Answer any questions. During the disciplinary or termination meeting, invite any questions from the employee to ensure they leave with all the information they require and understand the next steps of the procedure.
9. It’s unwise to terminate employment on the spot. Consult an HR specialist or employment law solicitor to ensure you have all the documentation and evidence required to avoid any future legal action for unfair dismissal.
10. Be dignified. Treat the employee with empathy and respect, this will tend to deliver a more positive reaction from the employee. Give the employee time to gather their thoughts. If they’re being suspended or terminated, escort them from the premises in a dignified manner. Offer information regarding the next steps or what happens post termination.
For an informal conversation about any concerns you have with your firm’s disciplinary procedures, Tercus HR are here to help. Give us a call on 0330 555 1139 or email us at hello@tercushr.co.uk.