Ensure all circumstances of each case are taken into account. Ensure that consideration is given to the staff member s past record

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1 FORUM HOUSING ASSOCIATION Forum Housing Association is fully committed to all principles of Equality and Diversity and takes an approach which recognises the importance of the nine Protected Characteristics covered by the Equality Act (Age, Disability, Gender Reassignment, Pregnancy and Maternity, Race, Religion or Belief, Marriage and Civil Partnership, Sex, Sexual Orientation). As a demonstration of our commitment, this policy and procedure has had an Equality Analysis undertaken on it to ensure we offer a service and employment that is inclusive for all. DISCIPLINARY POLICY Forum Housing Association s Disciplinary Policy and Procedure has been designed in accordance with the Employment Act (2008) and the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Policy and Procedures, updated in April Forum Housing Association recognises that discipline is essential for the conduct of the Association s affairs and for the safety and well being of all staff and residents. Disciplinary action will be considered and applied in a fair, effective and consistent manner in accordance with the principles of natural justice. Through its Disciplinary Policy and Procedure the Association will encourage all employees to achieve and maintain standards of conduct, attendance and job performance. POLICY OBJECTIVES To promote fairness in the treatment of individuals Ensure that disciplinary action is only taken after full investigation of the facts and the staff member has had an opportunity to be accompanied and present their case. Ensure all circumstances of each case are taken into account Ensure that consideration is given to the staff member s past record Ensure that consideration is given to the need to apply the test of reasonableness in all circumstances Provide timely, sufficient and effective means of dealing with cases of serious and gross misconduct Ensure members of staff are fully and promptly informed in writing of any allegations made against them and the progress of any investigations into the allegations Ensure that members of staff have the right to appeal 1 of 8

2 DISCIPLINARY ACTION Gathering the facts The Disciplinary Procedure is designed to establish facts and to deal with disciplinary issues in a clear and consistent way, therefore before any formal disciplinary action; all the facts about alleged misconduct should be established as soon as possible. Warnings The Association has a three stage warning procedure before dismissal. However, this does not mean that 3 warnings must always be given before any dismissal is considered. Additionally, there may be occasions when dismissal without notice is applicable i.e. acts of gross misconduct such as; inappropriate relationships or behaviour with or towards residents theft damage to Association or residents property fraud physical violence or bullying serious insubordination incapacity for work due to being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs involvement in any drug related action/offence harassment or discrimination deliberately accessing internet sites containing pornographic, offensive or abusive material failure to demonstrate the Association s required Behavioural Competencies Note: This list is not exhaustive. A warning is intended to inform a staff member that what they have done is unacceptable to the Association and to correct a behaviour. If a staff member is in any doubt after receiving a warning, they may ask for clarification within 5 working days, which should be provided in writing within 5 working days of receiving the request. A staff member who has received a warning should continue to receive ongoing support and guidance from their Line Manager. A formal verbal warning may be used where normal supervisory methods have failed to result in an improvement in the staff member s performance or in the case of minor offences. This will be kept on file and, in the absence of further misconduct within 3 months, will be removed from the staff member s file. A written warning may be used where there has been a breach of discipline of a more serious nature or where there is an accumulation of minor offences. This will be recorded on the staff member s file, but in the absence of further misconduct within 6 months, will be removed from the staff member s file. 2 of 8

3 A final written warning may be used if the misconduct is too serious for a written warning, but not serious enough to warrant dismissal, or if there is further misconduct while a previous written warning remains on file. This will be recorded on the staff member s file, but in the absence of further misconduct within 12 months, will be removed from the staff member s file. Suspension In some cases whilst allegations of misconduct are being investigated, the staff member may be suspended on full pay. Before a decision to suspend a staff member is made, the situation must be discussed with the Director of Human Resources and Corporate Services. A staff member can only be suspended on the authority of an Executive member. (In the case of disciplinary matters affecting Executive members and Senior Managers these will be dealt with by the Chief Executive). The Director of Human Resources and Corporate Services will make it clear that suspension is not a disciplinary penalty and that it will not prejudice any future disciplinary hearing. The staff member will be given a specific Manager to contact whilst they are suspended. The Chair of the Risk and Audit Committee must be notified of any decision to suspend a staff member. During the suspension, a staff member will be paid as if he/she were on authorised absence. Any period of suspension, which exceeds 4 weeks, shall be reviewed at weekly intervals by the Director of Human Resources and Corporate Services and Chief Executive. Authority A decision to dismiss any staff member will be taken by the Chief Executive, or in their absence, another officer designated by him/her. All Line Managers may take other disciplinary action following consultation with Director of Human Resources and Corporate Services or Human Resources Manager. PROCEDURE FOR MINOR MISCONDUCT ISSUES When dealing with issues which fall into the minor misconduct definition, such as absence, time keeping, first breaches of company rules, holiday arrangements, failure to comply with reasonable requests made (this list is not exhaustive), the following process can be followed. Process This process allows Managers to deal with misconduct in a quick, efficient and informal way and allows sanctions of up to a verbal warning to be issued. 3 of 8

4 Investigation In the first instance, when a minor misconduct issue arises, the relevant Manager will meet with the staff member to discuss the offence and so the manager can determine whether a Disciplinary Hearing is required. It is the Manager s duty to gather appropriate information and evidence which will support the allegations and will determine whether any meetings with staff involved are required. Disciplinary Hearing The member of staff should be notified in writing that such a meeting will take place. The letter must give at least 3 days notice of the meeting and should include the date and time of the meeting and the fact that the employee will have the right to be accompanied by another staff member or a Trade Union Representative. Note: In all cases it is the staff member s responsibility to make the appropriate arrangements for accompaniment. The companion may address the meeting to put forward the staff member s case, sum up their case or respond on the staff member s behalf. They may also confer with the staff member, but do not have the right to answer questions on their behalf. After the meeting, the decision will be confirmed in writing to the staff member outlining their right to appeal if they have been issued with a Verbal Warning. PROCEDURE FOR MORE SERIOUS MISCONDUCT ISSUES Where the matter is more serious the following procedure will be used. This procedure applies to all of the Association s staff. The procedure is designed to establish the facts quickly and to deal consistently with disciplinary issues. No disciplinary action will be taken until the matter has been fully investigated. Serious Safeguarding concerns relating to a staff member will automatically be dealt with via the Disciplinary Policy and Procedure. Investigative Interview During the investigation stage, the Investigating Manager/Officer should also gather witness statements and conduct interviews where appropriate. The Association s checklist for investigations should be followed, see DIS1. Confidentiality should be adhered to at all times. 1. The staff member accused of misconduct should be duly notified in writing of the allegations made against them and the process that he/she has now entered. 2. An investigative interview will be arranged with the staff member taking into account the time for the staff member to prepare their case, but also the need to deal with the matter efficiently. However, in serious conduct cases the interview will need to take place as soon as reasonably practicable. The staff member has no right to be accompanied at the investigation stage. In some cases, no interview will be required and the investigative stage will be the collection of evidence by the Investigating Manager/Officer. 4 of 8

5 3. For a staff member who is invited to attend an investigative interview related to disciplinary action, the Association will make all reasonable adjustments to cater for the needs of any staff member who has been invited who has a disability. 4. It is imperative that the steps detailed in this procedure are followed in full. Any decisions to deviate from this procedure should have the approval of the Director of Human Resources and Corporate Services. 5. Once an investigation is completed by the Investigating Manager/Officer and they conclude that following the investigation, that there is a case to answer at a disciplinary hearing the staff member will be notified, in writing, that such a hearing is taking place. The letter must give at least 5 days notice of the hearing. Disciplinary Hearing The following information should be included in the letter: The date and time of the hearing. Sufficient information regarding the reason for the Disciplinary Hearing The fact that the staff member will have the opportunity to state his/her case and question any witnesses. The fact that the staff member will have the right to invite another staff member or Trade Union Representative to accompany them. Note: In all cases it is the staff member s responsibility to make the appropriate arrangements for accompaniment. The companion may address the meeting to put forward the staff member s case, sum up their case or respond on the staff member s behalf. They may also confer with the staff member, but do not have the right to answer questions on their behalf. Details of the names and number of witnesses to be presented at the disciplinary hearing (name of witnesses may be withheld if it felt necessary to protect a witness s identity prior to a hearing). Reports of findings of investigations which includes details of the allegations, together with relevant background papers, witness statements, notes of investigation meetings etc will be send to the staff member no later than 3 days prior to the disciplinary hearing. A staff member may also call witnesses on his/her behalf; details of witnesses to be called should be made available to the agreed, named contact at least 3 working days prior to the hearing. If a witness is a staff member of the Association, the appropriate Manager must be given prior notice in order that the staff member can be granted time away from work. In most cases witness statements will be sufficient for the purposes of the disciplinary hearing, as all the relevant information will have been provided to both parties. However, in complex cases and/or where the evidence is fundamental to the case witnesses will be expected to attend. 5 of 8

6 When deciding on who conducts the disciplinary hearing generally a Manager involved as an Investigation Officer should not conduct the subsequent disciplinary hearing, unless the misconduct is deemed to be minor. In this instance the Line Manager does have the right to conduct the investigation and the subsequent disciplinary hearing. Should a staff member be unable to attend a hearing, every attempt should be made to re-arrange. However, should the staff member fail to attend on two occasions, they will be invited a third time, however should they fail to attend, the hearing can be conducted in their absence. Result of Hearing Disciplinary Action If, following an investigation and disciplinary hearing, the disciplining Manager concludes that disciplinary action is required, the following options are available. Verbal Warning Written Warning Final Written Warning Page 3 provides a summary of what level of warning is appropriate for what type of misconduct. Confirmation of Warnings The Manager must give the staff member written confirmation of any warning within 7 working days of the disciplinary hearing, together with an explanation of: The reason for the warning The level of the warning How a staff member is required to change their actions The staff member s right of appeal The fact that a note will be kept on their personal file indicating that a Warning has been given, the reasons for it and any required improvement in conduct which has been specified. The fact that further misconduct may lead to a further disciplinary action, which could (where appropriate) include dismissal. The letter of confirmation should be delivered, by hand, or Recorded Delivery, to ensure that, subject to the staff member s availability, that he/she receives it. Level 4 Dismissal Without Notice If, following an investigation and disciplinary hearing an officer is satisfied that a staff member is guilty of gross misconduct or consistent breach of the Association s policies and procedures, the staff member will be recommended for dismissal to the Chief Executive and then be dismissed without notice or pay in lieu of notice. 6 of 8

7 Dismissal with Notice If, while a Final Written Warning is still in force, the staff member s conduct is still unsatisfactory, as determined by a subsequent investigation and disciplinary hearing, the disciplining Manager will normally recommend to the Chief Executive to dismiss the staff member with notice, the employee will receive full pay during the notice period. The staff member will not be required to report for work during the notice period. Consideration may also be given to payment in lieu of notice with the agreement of the staff member. NOTE The dismissal will be confirmed, in writing, within 7 working days of the hearing, given the date on which the person s employment ended and explaining the reasons for the dismissal and the staff member s right to appeal. The letter of confirmation will be delivered by hand or Recorded Delivery. The Chair of the Risk and Audit Committee will be notified of any decision to dismiss a staff member. This procedure does not apply when: dismissal arises from the completion of a fixed term or temporary period of employment or task or contract for which a staff member has been specifically engaged. a staff member is unable to carry out their required duties to an acceptable standard, due to a lack of knowledge, skill or disability, permanent ill health or where there is a genuine lack of capability. In these circumstances the Capability Policy and Procedure would be used. redundancy is the option Overlapping Disciplinary and Grievance Cases Where a staff member raises a grievance during a disciplinary process, the disciplinary process may be (but will not automatically be) temporarily suspended in order to deal with the grievance. Where the disciplinary and grievance cases are related, it may be appropriate to deal with both issues concurrently. Appeals Process All employees have the right to appeal against formal disciplinary action (including dismissal) taken against them following a disciplinary hearing. The purpose of an appeal is to review the decision taken by the disciplining Manager and to consider whether the procedure has been followed correctly. The decision options open to the Appeals meeting are as follows: Uphold the Appeal Reject the Appeal in part and impose a lower level of Warning Reject the Appeal in full Reject the Appeal and ask the staff member s Manager to reconsider the option of offering alternative employment on the basis that if the staff member rejects the offer of redeployment, the dismissal stands. 7 of 8

8 If the staff member decides to appeal against disciplinary action taken against him/her, he/she must do so in writing, stating the grounds for the appeal and enclosing relevant documentation, within 5 days of being told of the decision taken at the disciplinary hearing. The notice of the appeal must be sent to the Appeals Officer who will arrange for the appeal to be heard within 20 working days of receipt of notice. (Unless a later date is mutually agreed). Appeals made by members of the Executive Management Team, will be heard by a panel made up of Board Members. The staff member will be notified, in writing, of the date, time and location of the appeal hearing. This should be sent no less than 5 days before the date of the appeal. The staff member will be expected to be in attendance at the hearing when the appeal is being heard and he/she may be accompanied by another staff member or Trade Union officer. If the staff member fails to attend the appeal hearing, the Manager hearing the appeal may, depending on the circumstances, consider it in his/her absence; or defer the hearing to an alternative date or dismiss the appeal. The staff member may also call witnesses on his/her behalf. If either party intends to call witnesses at the Appeal Hearing, the details of the number and names of witnesses to be called should be made available to the other party at least 3 working days prior to the Appeal Hearing. If either party intends to produce disciplinary evidence at the appeal, copies of the documents should be given, to the other party at least 3 working days prior to the Appeal Hearing. Compromise For the purpose of this policy a non-contractual payment may be made following legal advice, and in line with Tenant Services Authority approval, between the Chief Executive and an employee in conjunction with the Chair of the Board. This policy will be reviewed on at least a 3 year cycle, or sooner as directed. Date of next review May Staff non-compliance with this policy may result in disciplinary proceedings. DIS1 Checklist for Investigations Form 8 of 8