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Disciplinary policy

Last reviewed on 06 February 2018

Here at the Co-op, we trust that you’ll want to always meet the high standards of conduct we expect of our colleagues. But if your conduct falls below our expectations, we’ll address the issue with you in a fair and supportive way.

This Policy should be read along with the Disciplinary Process, which sets out the steps we’ll take to deal with any issues of misconduct.

Just so everyone’s clear, if the issue is to do with performance rather than conduct, we’ll follow the Performance Improvement Process instead.

Crucial bits

The Disciplinary Policy and Process apply to all colleagues who’ve successfully completed their probationary period.

The process we’ll follow to address any concerns about your conduct during your probationary period can be found in the Probationary Period Review Process.

Informal discussions

Wherever we can, we’ll try to resolve problems in the workplace informally. If your manager has any concerns about your conduct, they’ll raise this with you during a regular 1-2-1 or they may set up a meeting with you just to talk about it.

Your manager will explain their concerns to you and let you know what you need to do to improve. They’ll make a record so you can both remember what you’ve discussed and agreed. Ask your manager questions if you’re not clear about what or how you need to improve and let them know if there’s anything you need from them to help you.

Disciplinary meetings

If things don’t improve, or it’s a serious matter and your manager thinks it’s not appropriate to use informal methods, we’ll move into the formal Disciplinary Process. Before starting the formal process, we’ll always make sure that any issue has been fully investigated. The investigation might include inviting you to a meeting to talk about things – there’s more information in the investigations section of the Disciplinary Process.

You’ll get a letter to invite you a formal disciplinary meeting to talk about the issue. You’ll always get at least 48 hours’ notice in writing of any disciplinary meeting – and in some cases it may be longer than this. We expect you to do your best to attend, but if you or your chosen representative can’t make it, speak to your manager as soon as possible letting them know dates and times you can make and they’ll try to rearrange it for a time that works for everyone. If you’ve got pre-booked holiday then we’ll arrange it for a time you’re back in work. Rescheduled meetings will usually be within a week of the original meeting time.

You can have either a work colleague or a trade union representative come along to any formal disciplinary meeting with you. If you’re under 18 you can have your parent or guardian come with you. If you’re a member of a trade union, you may want to talk to them about things, even if you don’t want to be accompanied to the meeting.

If you’re a trade union representative yourself, you can be accompanied to a disciplinary meeting by an official from your trade union.

There’s no specific right to be accompanied by a trade union rep or colleague at an informal meeting, such as an investigation meeting. But if you ask and there’s a suitable person readily available, we’ll allow them to come along with you.

There’s more information about who you can bring and their role in the Guide to Workplace Representatives.

Just so it’s clear, we don’t allow disciplinary meetings to be recorded – but we’ll take detailed notes which you’ll get the chance to review and we’ll give you a copy after the meeting.

Suspension

Sometimes we may decide to suspend you on full pay while we investigate allegations. We’ll only do this where we feel it’s necessary to protect you and/or our business. Situations where we might do this include:

  • When the investigation can’t start straight away because you’re not fit for work – such as under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or there’s been a fight in the workplace and a ‘cooling off’ period is needed
  • When you being at work may get in the way of a full and fair investigation
  • When there have been complaints of bullying or harassment
  • Where there’s an allegation of theft, other financial irregularities or dishonesty

Just so it’s clear, suspension isn’t a disciplinary sanction and it doesn’t mean we’ve made any decisions about what’s happened. We’ll always tell you why we’re suspending you, and will make sure this time is as short as possible.

We may invite you to meetings while you’re suspended. If you don’t attend without good reason, we’ll treat this as unauthorised absence which means your suspension pay may be stopped – see the AWOL/Unauthorised Absence policy. Just so you know, if you go off sick pending any investigation or disciplinary meeting, we may stop your Co-op sick pay – see the Absence Policy.

Disciplinary warnings

Depending on the outcome of the disciplinary meeting, we may decide to issue you with one of the following disciplinary warnings, depending on how serious the matter is and whether you already have a live disciplinary warning. These sanctions will be live for disciplinary purposes for the timeframes below:

  • Verbal Warning – 6 months
  • Written Warning – 9 months
  • Final Written Warning – 12 months
  • Dismissal
  • Demotion
  • Suspension without pay

There’s more information about this in the outcomes section of the Disciplinary Process.

Gross misconduct

You’ll only be dismissed for a first incident of misconduct if you’ve committed an act of gross misconduct. In these circumstances, you could be summarily dismissed without notice or a pay-in-lieu of notice.

We normally consider the following to be gross misconduct:

  • Theft, falsification, fraud or dishonesty
  • Physical violence or bullying
  • Deliberate and serious damage to property
  • Serious misuse of the organisation’s property or name
  • Deliberately accessing internet sites containing pornographic, offensive or obscene material
  • Unlawful discrimination or harassment
  • Conduct that has the potential to bring the organisation into disrepute
  • Use of or possession of illegal substances, or incapacity due to alcohol or drugs at work
  • Failure to disclose an unspent criminal conviction during recruitment, or a criminal conviction during employment relevant to your role
  • Serious negligence
  • A serious breach of health and safety rules
  • A serious breach of confidence
  • Unauthorised absence – see the Unauthorised Absence/AWOL Policy
  • Applying unauthorised discounts
  • Private trading in competition with the Co-op
  • A serious failure to follow a reasonable request
  • A serious or persistent breach of the Smoke-Free Policy
  • A serious breach of a Co-op policy or process

This isn’t a complete list – these are just some examples and we’ll look at each case individually.

Appeals

You’ll always be given the right to appeal any disciplinary sanction. This will be explained in the disciplinary outcome letter and will tell you who to address your appeal to. You need to appeal within seven calendar days of getting your outcome letter, but we’ll give you longer in exceptional circumstances.

There’s more information about this in the appeals section of the Disciplinary Process.

Things to think about

Medical conditions

If you think that your problems at work are being caused by a medical condition or disability, talk to your manager and they’ll provide you with the support you need. This might include referring you for an Occupational Health assessment, so we can find out more about your condition and how it may affect you at work.

Criminal matters

If we think that an issue might be a criminal matter, we may decide to report it to the police. Managers should contact ER Services for advice if they suspect criminal activity might be involved. If you work in a business area that’s externally regulated, we may also report the matter to the FCA and PRA or the SRA.

We won’t usually wait for the outcome of any prosecution before deciding what action, if any, to take. Where you’re unable or have been advised not to attend a disciplinary meeting or say anything about a pending criminal matter, we may make a decision on the evidence available to us.

We’ll always carry out any investigations, including those where we suspect criminal conduct, as soon as possible, regardless of where things may be up to in the legal proceedings.

If you’re charged, cautioned or convicted of any criminal offence outside work, you need to let your manager know as soon as possible. We may decide to follow the Disciplinary Process if the offence is relevant to the role you do - managers should always seek advice from ER Services in these cases.

Confidentiality

We’ll deal with all disciplinary matters sensitively and with respect for the privacy of any colleagues involved. Any information given to you in connection with an investigation or disciplinary matter must be treated as confidential.

You’ll normally be told the names of any witnesses who are relevant to the disciplinary matter – but sometimes we may decide that a witness’s identity should be kept confidential.

Grievances during disciplinary proceedings

If you raise a grievance during the Disciplinary Process that’s unrelated to the disciplinary matter, the Disciplinary Process will continue and another manager will deal with your grievance separately. But if the two matters are connected, we may either deal with the grievance during the Disciplinary Process or pause the Disciplinary Process while we deal with the grievance.

If you need further support

If you have questions about this, please speak to your manager. If managers need advice they can contact ER Services.

You may need additional support, so remember we have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) who can help. You can contact the EAP in confidence on 0800 069 8854.