SARH: Disciplinary Policy

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1 SARH: Date: December 2015 Author of the Strategy/Policy: Steve Tolley Due date for review: December

2 Contents No. Details Page 1 Introduction 2 2 Principles Confidentiality 3 4 The right to be accompanied 3/4 5 Line Managers Roles and Responsibilities 4 6 Suspension 4 7 Investigations 4/5 8 Criminal charges 5 9 Notification of a Disciplinary Hearing 5 10 Disciplinary Hearing Procedure 6 11 Disciplinary Warnings Appeals 8 13 Process Overviews Examples of Disciplinary Offences Review of Policy Related Policies 12 1

3 1. Introduction 1.1 Stafford and Rural Homes will ensure that we treat all employees consistently and in line with our Values and Cares principles. 1.2 The Company recognises that it has a duty of care for all employees and Human Resources will provide support and employee relations guidance to line managers at each stage of the policy. 1.3 The purpose of the ( Policy ) is to help promote fairness in the treatment of employees in the workplace, to clarify the standard expected and to help encourage employees to achieve and maintain those standards of conduct. This Policy will normally be invoked where an employee s conduct falls below the standard expected. 1.4 Stafford and Rural Homes ( SARH ) wishes to ensure that any disciplinary matter is dealt with fairly and that steps are taken to establish the facts and to give employees the opportunity to respond before taking any formal action. 1.5 Stafford and Rural Homes will give due consideration to individual requests outside of statutory time frames on a case by case basis. 1.6 If there is a need for an appropriate, alternative manager to conduct a hearing, Stafford and Rural Homes will consider this in consultation with the union. 1.7 This policy forms part of your contract of employment. SARH reserve the right to make minor amendments from time to time and/or amendments to reflect any changes in the law in consultation with the appropriate Trade Unions. Employees will be given 4 weeks written notice of the change after which time the change will be effective. 1.8 This Policy applies to all staff, except those employees who are in their probationary period. 2. Principles 2.1. Cases of minor misconduct are usually best dealt with informally. A quiet word is often all that is required to improve an employee s conduct. In some cases additional training, coaching and advice may be what is needed. An informal approach may be particularly helpful where problems can be resolved quickly and confidentially. Of course there will be situations where matters are more serious or where an informal approach has been tried but is not working. 2

4 2.2 The responsibility for resolving conduct matters rests with Line Managers who will receive advice from Human Resources. 2.3 Ensure that Disciplinary matters are dealt with efficiently within agreed time periods (according to circumstances) and will clear outcomes at all stages. 3. Confidentiality 3.1. SARH s aim is to deal with disciplinary matters sensitively and with due respect for the privacy of any individuals involved. All employees must treat any information that is communicated to them in connection with an investigation or disciplinary matter in confidence The employer, employee and their Colleague/Union Representative (including witnesses) must not make electronic recordings of any meetings or hearings conducted under this Procedure. All documentation, once completed, will be classified as confidential and managed accordingly The employee will be informed of the names of any witnesses whose evidence is used in the investigation and any disciplinary proceedings. 4. The right to be accompanied 4.1 An employee has the right to be accompanied at all stages by a colleague and/or trade union representative or an official employed by a trade union. The trade union representative who is not an employed official must have been certified by their union as being competent to accompany a worker. 4.2 Employees must tell the manager conducting the hearing who the chosen companion is in good time before the hearing. 4.3 A colleague/trade Union representative is allowed reasonable time off from duties without loss of pay but no-one is obliged to act as a companion if they do not wish to do so. 4.4 Employees have the right to choose their colleague. However, if the choice of colleague is unreasonable SARH may require the employee to choose someone else for example if, in our opinion the representative may have a conflict of interest or may prejudice the hearing; 4.5 If the employee or colleague/trade union representative cannot attend the hearing the employee should inform SARH immediately and SARH will arrange an alternative time. The employee must make every effort to attend the hearing. If the employee is persistently unable to attend, after two occasions and considered on a case by case basis SARH may have to make a decision based on the available evidence. Failure to attend without good reason may be treated as misconduct in itself. 3

5 5. Line managers responsibilities 5.1. Line Managers have a key role to play in ensuring appropriate conduct is maintained at all times. This is normally reinforced through various line management techniques on a daily basis, such as being proactive, managing conduct and behaviour of employees, identifying problems and encouraging improvement at an early stage. This may prevent the need to instigate formal procedures Should matters need to be addressed through the formal procedure, line managers are responsible for:- Ensuring that matters are handled within agreed time periods and that each stage is progressed as efficiently as possible with clear outcomes, for the benefit of all parties; Maintaining communication with the relevant parties throughout the process and ensuring all appropriate information is relayed within the necessary timescales; Preparing the management case with advice from Human Resources, and presenting it to the Chair on the day of the hearing. 6. Suspension 6.1. In cases where an employee s continued presence in the workplace would hinder an investigation a Head of Service may authorise suspension of an employee from work. In cases relating to a Director, this will be the Chief Executive (CEO)/Board. The Board delegates the rights in these matters to the CEO unless there is a matter of discipline that directly involves the CEO. The suspension will be for no longer than is necessary, (normally not longer than four weeks). The arrangements will be confirmed in writing. Whilst suspended an employee should not visit their place of work or any of SARH s other premises or contact any of SARH s clients, customers, suppliers, contractors or employees, unless the employee has been specifically authorised to do so Suspension of this kind is not a disciplinary penalty nor does it imply that any decision has already been made about the allegation. An employee will continue to receive their full basic salary (or average earnings) and benefits during the period of suspension. 7. Investigations 7.1. For any allegation an investigation will be required. The amount of investigation required will depend on the nature of the allegations and will vary from case to case. It may involve interviewing and taking statements from the employee and any witnesses and/or reviewing relevant documents. 4

6 7.2. The purpose of an investigation is for SARH to establish a fair and balanced view of the facts relating to any disciplinary allegation against the employee, before deciding whether to proceed with a disciplinary hearing. Investigative interviews are solely for the purpose of factfinding The Investigation will be commissioned by a Head of Service, who will appoint an Investigating Officer a manager, to carry out the investigation. In the case of a Director, the CEO will appoint an appropriate Investigating officer. In the case of the CEO, the chair of the board will appoint an appropriate Investigating Officer Employees must co-operate fully and promptly in any investigation. This will include informing SARH of the names of any relevant witnesses, disclosing any relevant documents and attending investigative interviews if required. If an employee is required to attend an investigative interview they will receive 3 working days notice of the meeting Employees have a statutory right to be accompanied to an investigative interview and under SARH policies we will allow an employee to be accompanied. (see Right to be accompanied above) An investigation report will be given to the Commissioning Officer (Head of Service or above in cases relating to Director or CEO), to make a decision on whether formal disciplinary action is warranted. 8. Criminal Charges 8.1. Where the employee s conduct is the subject of a criminal investigation, charge or conviction SARH will investigate the facts before deciding whether to take formal disciplinary action. 9. Notification of a Disciplinary Hearing 9.1. Following any investigation, if SARH considers there are grounds for disciplinary action, the employee will be required to attend a disciplinary hearing. The employee will be informed in writing of the allegations, the basis for these and the likely range of outcomes if it is found that the allegations are true SARH will give the employee written notice of the date, time and place of the disciplinary hearing. The hearing will be held within 5 days, but the employee will be given a reasonable amount of time to prepare the case based on the information that they have been provided with The employee will be provided with: a copy of the Investigation Report; a copy of any documents which will be used at the disciplinary hearing; including a copy of any witness statements. 5

7 10. Disciplinary Hearing Procedure 10.1 The disciplinary hearing will be chaired by a Hearing Officer, a Head of Service (who where possible will be more senior than the Investigating Officer, for cases that may result in Dismissal the Hearing Officer will be a member of the Leadership Team). Also in attendance will be a member of the HR team and the Investigating Officer The Hearing Officer will present the allegations that have been made against the employee and the Investigating Officer will be asked to present the evidence that has been gathered. The employee will be able to respond to the allegations, put forward their case, ask questions and raise any mitigating circumstances The employee may ask relevant witnesses to appear at the hearing, provided advance notice has been given to SARH If matters arise during the course of a disciplinary hearing which require further investigation, in the light of new points that have been raised, then the disciplinary hearing may be adjourned The employee will be told the decision in person by the Hearing Officer at the end of the hearing SARH will inform the employee in writing, within 5 working days of its decision and of the right of appeal. 11. Disciplinary Warnings 11.1 Examples of Misconduct and Gross Misconduct can be found on Page There may be occasions where following the investigation and/or the disciplinary hearing no formal disciplinary action is required. The employee will be informed accordingly No penalty will be imposed without a hearing. Verbal Warning (Active for 6 months) A verbal warning. It may be appropriate for a minor act of misconduct. First Written Warning (Active for 6 months) A first written warning. It may be appropriate for a first act of misconduct where there are no other active warnings on an employee s disciplinary record, or may be considered for further misconduct following a verbal warning. Final Written Warning (Active for 12 months) A final written warning. It may be appropriate for: 6

8 misconduct where there is already an active written warning on the employee s disciplinary record; or misconduct that SARH considers is sufficiently serious to warrant a final written warning even though there are no other active warnings on the employee s disciplinary record. Dismissal Dismissal. It will only be appropriate for: any misconduct or issues during the employee s probationary period; further misconduct where there is an active final written warning on the employee s disciplinary record; and where nature of the misconduct warrants it. any gross misconduct regardless of whether there are active warnings on the employee s disciplinary record. Gross misconduct will usually result in immediate dismissal without notice or payment in lieu of notice (summary dismissal). Alternatives to Dismissal In some cases SARH may consider alternatives to dismissal; these will usually be accompanied by a final written warning. Examples include: Demotion transfer to another department or job period of suspension without pay loss of seniority reduction in pay loss of future pay, increment or bonus loss of overtime The effect of a warning Warnings will set out the nature of the misconduct, the changes required, the period for which the warning will remain active and the likely consequences of further misconduct in the active period. 7

9 12. Appeals 12.1 If the employee feels that any disciplinary action taken against them is wrong or unjust then the employee should appeal in writing, stating the full grounds of appeal, to the Human Resources department within seven days of the date in which the employee was informed in writing of the decision If the employee is appealing against dismissal, the date upon which dismissal takes effect will not be delayed pending the outcome of the appeal. If the employee s appeal is, however, successful, they will be reinstated with no loss of continuity of service or pay If the employee raises any new matters in the appeal, SARH may need to carry out further investigation. If any new information comes to light a summary will be provided to the employee including, copies of additional documents and witness statements. The employee will have a reasonable opportunity to consider this information before the hearing SARH will give written notice of the date, time and place of the appeal hearing within 10 days The appeal hearing may be a complete re-hearing of the matter or it may be a review of the fairness of the original decision in light of the procedure that was followed and any new information that may have come to light The appeal hearing will be conducted by a more senior manager (Director, and Head of HR/Senior HR) than the manager that conducted the Disciplinary Hearing and who has not previously been involved in the case. Appeals against dismissal will be heard by another member of the Leadership Team, Chief Executive and a head of HR/Senior HR. A member of the Human Resources department and or the manager who conducted the Disciplinary Hearing may also be present to advise the panel, but they will not have any voting rights. Employees have the right to be accompanied (see point 4) A hearing may be adjourned if SARH or any employee needs to gather any further information or give consideration to matters discussed at the hearing. Employees will be given a reasonable opportunity to consider any new information obtained before the hearing is reconvened Following the appeal hearing SARH may: confirm the original decision; or revoke the original decision; or substitute a different (lower) warning. 8

10 12.9 Employees will be informed of the decision at the end of the appeal hearing and informed in writing within 5 days. The decision will be final and binding as there is no further right of internal appeal. 13. Process Overviews, for detailed guidance, refer to pages 4-8 Informal In cases of minor misconduct, an informal approach may be considered. Suspension If there is a need to suspend an employee, a Head of Service will consider the request and authorise any suspension. Letter to employee confirming suspension from duties. Suspension, normally, is no longer than 4 weeks and will be on full pay and benefits. Investigation Outcomes Investigation Investigation is commissioned by a Head of Service, who will appoint an Investigating Officer (a manager). Letter to invite employee to an investigation meeting. Invite any witnesses to an investigation meeting. Investigation meeting/s take place with Investigating Officer & Human Resources, Union Rep/and or Work Colleague. Investigation report prepared by Investigating Officer. Outcomes No further action, employee informed Or Proceed to disciplinary hearing. Decision taken by Commissioning Officer (Head of Service) to determine next steps. Disciplinary Hearing Letter to invite employee to Disciplinary hearing. Disciplinary hearing Hearing Officer,(Head of Service) Human Resources, Union Rep./and /or work colleague. Decision made to determine outcome and advised to employee at the end of the hearing. Outcomes No sanction, or Verbal warning (6 Months), or First Written Warning (6 9

11 Outcome letter within 5 working days. Right of appeal within 7 days Appeal process at each stage Employees have the right to appeal at each stage of the disciplinary policy. Employee submits appeal within 7 days of receiving the outcome letter. months), or Final Written Warning (12 months),or Dismissal (or alternative short of dismissal) Outcomes Confirm the original decision, or Letter to invite employee to appeal hearing within 10 Appeal heard by a more senior manager.(director & Head of HR/Senior HR For dismissal cases, this will be another member of the Leadership Team, Chief Executive and the Head of HR/Senior HR. Hearing may be adjourned to gather further information/ give consideration to matters discussed. Revoke the original decision, or Substitute different (lower) warning a Appeal outcome confirmed by a member of the Leadership Team. Outcome letter within 5 days. 14. Examples of Disciplinary Offences Misconduct Examples of misconduct which may lead to a warning being issued include, but are not limited to the following: Poor work performance, relating to carelessness and/or indifference. Breach of organisational rules, polices or procedures Disobedience Insubordination, failure to follow a reasonable instruction Impropriety 10

12 Abuse of authority Neglect of duty Sleeping on duty Continued poor attendance or attitude or time keeping; Continued failure to follow absence reporting procedures; unauthorised absence. Failure to follow SARH s rules, policies and procedures including health and safety and the use of safety clothing and equipment; Improper use of SARH s property or failure to report damage to SARH as soon as possible. Being an accessory to a disciplinary offence. Going off site without permission during normal working hours; Gross Misconduct Some types of misconduct are considered by SARH to be so serious that a disciplinary warning would be an insufficient penalty. Such offences are known as gross misconduct. Where the offence is one of gross misconduct, the penalty may be summary dismissal i.e. dismissal without a prior warning being issued and without notice or pay in lieu of notice. Examples of matters which constitute gross misconduct include, but are not limited to, the following: Serious insubordination Theft or fraud or dishonesty Dangerous behaviour, fighting, physical violence or seriously disruptive behaviour; Deliberate damage to SARH property, vandalism or sabotage, use of abusive language/swearing/rudeness to colleagues, clients, customers or third parties; Being at work under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or other intoxicants; or supply of illegal drugs or other intoxicants; Assisting, encouraging or procuring a colleague to commit any act which is tantamount to gross misconduct; Significant infringement of SARH s rules, policies and procedures Any matter relating to the protection of vulnerable persons; Acts of harassment, discrimination, victimisation or bullying of colleagues, clients, customers or third parties or any other discriminatory grounds or aiding, abetting or encouraging others to do the same; Serious misuse of computer, and internet systems. Deception, including deliberate falsification of SARH s records (eg making untrue statements in employment applications, falsifying references or documents relating to sickness, absence, time worked, expenses); Misuse of SARH s property (including company mobile, financial and other information); 11

13 Bringing SARH into disrepute or actions likely to bring SARH into disrepute; Negligence which causes or could cause unacceptable loss, damage or injury; Disclosure or misuse of confidential information; breach of the Data Protection Act. Undertaking private work on the premises and/or in working hours without express permission; Betting, gambling or touting on SARH s premises; Unauthorised absence. 15. Review of Policy This policy will be reviewed on a regular basis to reflect any changes in employment legislation. 16. Related Policies Capability Policy Sickness Management Grievance Dignity At Work Consider the Disability Discrimination Act/Equalities Act 12

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