Things to consider when making a disciplinary decision

As a manager, it can sometimes be very difficult to have discussions with individuals about their performance, particularly when it gets to the stage of a disciplinary.  At this stage, it’s really important that you make sure that you have the key elements in place to help and support them in making a disciplinary decision and by doing so they are in a strong position to defend their decision should it go to an Employment Tribunal.


The key elements that a manager will need to demonstrate are:

– that you have followed a thorough investigation

– that a fair disciplinary hearing has been conducted

– if disciplinary action is needed, you should ensure that your decision on what sanction to impose is fair and reasonable in the circumstances.

– you should inform the employee of the decision, the reasons for it and their right to appeal at any stage.


Here, we look at 5 things you need to consider before deciding on an appropriate disciplinary penalty.

1. Was the investigation fair and objective?  One of the best ways of doing this is by having a separate person conducting the investigation to the disciplinary hearing.  This will reinforce that the Company has operated in a fair and objective way.

2. Thoroughly review the employee’s personnel file.  Are there any previous disciplinary warnings on file?  If there is, then you will need to establish whether these warnings are still open or the expiry date has been reached.

3. Has the employee ever been coached/counselled in the past?  If so, how long ago did this happen?  Do you feel that you have adequately communicated with the individual and given them adequate training (if appropriate) to improve their performance or conduct?  In some instances, coaching/counselling may not be appropriate depending on the severity of the allegation, such as,  instances of gross misconduct.

4. Does the investigative summary, witness statements and evidence support the conclusion?

5. Have policies been violated?  Consider what documents exist in your business which clarify to employees the standards of behaviour or performance required of them.


The key to this is ensuring that you have robust HR policies and procedures in place to support how you operate and that your people managers have been trained so that a standardised approach is applied which is both legally compliant and installs confidence in both your managers and employees.


If you would like to know more on the subject, please contact Sue Green at Evergreen HR. To view detail of Sue’s blogs, .