Sign in to MyHR

Disciplinary process

Last reviewed on 06 February 2018

Here at Co-op we want to make sure that our colleagues are treated fairly and consistently at all times. If we have any concerns about a colleague’s conduct, we’ll follow the steps below to address the issue.

All template letters can be found on the Intranet.

This process should be read along with the Disciplinary Policy.

It may be implemented at any stage if necessary, depending on how serious the issue is.

Informal discussions

Managers should raise any concerns they have about a colleagues’ conduct informally first and should keep notes of what was discussed and agreed. If things are resolved, then managers shouldn’t keep these notes any longer.

But if the colleagues’ conduct doesn’t improve to the standard required, or if the manager decides it’s not appropriate to use informal methods, we’ll start the formal Disciplinary Process below.

Investigation

We’ll always carry out a full investigation before starting the formal Disciplinary Process. This may involve asking the colleague to attend an investigation meeting. We may send an invitation letter (template letter DP1-3, or if we need to rearrange the meeting template letter DP4-6) but sometimes this might not be appropriate – like if we’re investigating a possible theft, or if there’s been a fight in the workplace. We’ll arrange this meeting as soon as possible, so we can try to get to the bottom of things quickly.

At the meeting we’ll explain our concerns to the colleague and what we’re trying to find out – and we’ll give the colleague the opportunity to talk about the issue and answer questions. We’ll take notes of what we talk about and give the colleague a copy of these after the meeting.

We’ll tell the colleague if we need to gather any further information – such as if we need to talk to any witnesses or other colleagues. We’ll speak to any relevant witnesses in private and keep notes of the conversation, which we’ll ask the witness to read and sign. Managers should call ER Services if they need any advice about witnesses.

We’ll complete the investigation as soon as possible and will inform the colleague if there’s going to be any delay. We’ll let the colleague know whether we’ve decided to proceed to a disciplinary meeting. If we decide not to take things further, we’ll tell the colleague using template letter DP8.

If we do decide to hold a disciplinary meeting, we’ll pass the information we’ve got from the investigation to another independent manager, so they can conduct the meeting.

Disciplinary meeting

The manager conducting the meeting will write to the colleague to invite them to a disciplinary meeting (template letter DP9-10 or template letter DP11-12 if the outcome could be dismissal) giving them at least 48 hours’ notice. The letter will explain what the allegations against the colleague are, so they can prepare for the meeting. The colleague will also be given/provided access to any relevant information, including witness statements, other documents and CCTV footage, before the meeting.

If the colleague wants to be accompanied to the meeting by a trade union rep or another colleague, they should arrange this and let the manager know before the meeting. There’s more information on the role of the workplace representative in the Guide to Workplace Representatives.

In the meeting we’ll discuss the issue with the colleague and give them the chance to put forward their side of things. The manager will adjourn the meeting if necessary to get further evidence or interview witnesses. If there is any further evidence, we’ll give the colleague the opportunity to respond to it. The manager should take a colleague with them to the meeting to take detailed notes of what was discussed. At the end of the meeting, we’ll ask everyone to read and sign the notes to make sure they’re an accurate reflection of what was discussed. The manager will then adjourn the meeting while they make their decision.

Rearranging the disciplinary meeting

Colleagues should do their best to attend, but if they or their chosen representative can’t make it, they should tell the manager holding the meeting as soon as possible letting them know dates and times they can make and the manager will try to rearrange it for a time that works for everyone.

If the colleague doesn’t turn up for the meeting, without telling us in advance, we’ll rearrange it and write to confirm the new details using template letter DP13-16. If they don’t turn up for the rearranged meeting, we’ll look at all the evidence available and make a decision without them being there – unless there are exceptional circumstances, in which case we’ll rearrange it once more. Any rescheduled meetings will usually be within a week of the original meeting time.

Outcomes

The manager will make a decision about what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken and confirm it to the colleague using the appropriate template letter. This will normally be within 14 calendar days of the meeting, but if it’s likely to take longer we’ll let the colleague know (template letter DP17).

The letter will include a copy of the notes from the meeting. The manager will decide on one of the following outcomes:

  • No action (template letter DP18) We’ll send the colleague a letter to explain that the matter is now closed and thank them for their co-operation.

  • Verbal warning (template letter DP19) We’ll normally give this where a colleague’s conduct doesn’t meet satisfactory standards and they have no other active warning on file. The letter will set out the issue and what they need to do to improve. The warning will be live for six months.

  • Written warning (template letter DP20) If the colleague has an active Verbal Warning on file and they commit a further incident of misconduct, we’ll normally give them a Written Warning. The letter will set out the issue and what they need to do to improve. The warning will be live for nine months.

  • Final written warning (template letter DP21) If the matter is serious enough, or if the colleague has committed a further incident of misconduct when they have an active Written Warning on file, we’ll normally give them a Final Written Warning. The warning will be live for 12 months.

  • Dismissal with notice (template letter DP22-23) If the colleague has a final written warning on file and fails to improve their conduct, we may decide to dismiss them. This will be with notice. Managers must always call ER Services for advice if the outcome could be dismissal. If there’s going to be payment in lieu of notice, managers should contact HR Services to make arrangements.

  • Summary dismissal (template letter DP24-26) If a colleague commits an act of gross misconduct (see the Disciplinary Policy for more information), they’ll normally be summarily dismissed without notice or pay-in-lieu of notice. Managers must always call ER Services for advice if the outcome could be dismissal.

  • Demotion (template letter DP27) In exceptional circumstances we may, as an alternative to dismissal, offer the colleague the opportunity to accept a lower level role. The colleague doesn’t have to agree to this, in which case the decision to dismiss them will stand. Managers should contact ER Services for advice.

  • Suspension without pay (template letter DP28) In very rare cases, as an alternative to dismissal, we may decide to suspend the colleague without pay for a period of up to 10 working days. Managers must contact ER Services for advice before doing this.

Appeal

The colleague can appeal against a disciplinary warning – either in a letter or by completing the template Disciplinary Appeal Form. The colleague should give the grounds for their appeal as either;

  • new information or evidence is available that wasn’t considered before
  • the process wasn’t followed correctly, or
  • they feel the outcome wasn’t fair and reasonable

Colleagues should send their appeal within seven calendar days of receiving the outcome letter – but we’ll give them longer in exceptional circumstances.

Appeal meeting

The appeal meeting will be with an independent manager who’s had nothing to do with the original decision. The appeal manager will invite the colleague to an appeal meeting (template letter DP29) giving them at least 48 hours’ notice. This will usually be within 14 calendar days of getting the appeal letter, but we’ll let the colleague know if it’s going to take longer (template letter DP30).

If the colleague wants to be accompanied to the appeal meeting by a trade union rep or another colleague, they should arrange this and let the manager know before the meeting. There’s more information on the role of the workplace representative in the Guide to Workplace Representatives.

At the appeal meeting, we’ll ask the colleague to explain the reasons for their appeal and why they feel that the original outcome wasn’t appropriate. The manager will adjourn the meeting if necessary to get further evidence or interview witnesses.

If there is any further evidence, we’ll make sure the colleague is given a copy or provided access to it is and give them the opportunity to respond to it.

The appeal manager will take a colleague to the meeting with them to take notes and at the end of the meeting everyone will be asked to check and sign the notes. The manager will then adjourn the meeting while they make their decision.

Rearranging the appeal meeting

Colleagues should do their best to attend the appeal meeting, but if they or their chosen representative can’t make it, they should tell the manager holding the meeting as soon as possible letting them know dates and times they can make and the manager will try to rearrange it for a time that works for everyone. If the colleague doesn’t turn up for the appeal meeting without telling us in advance, we’ll rearrange it and write to confirm the new details using template letter DP31.

If they don’t turn up for the rearranged meeting, we’ll consider the matter closed and write to confirm this Co-op Disciplinary Process (template letter DP32) – unless there are exceptional circumstances, in which case we’ll rearrange it once more. Any rescheduled meetings will usually be within a week of the original meeting time.

Appeal outcomes

Once the appeal manager has reached their decision, they should confirm it to the colleague in writing. This will normally be within 14 calendar days, but again, if it’s going to take longer we’ll keep the colleague informed (template letter DP33).

The appeal manager may decide to:

Reject the appeal (template letter DP34 or DP37) – so the original decision is upheld Uphold the appeal - and replace the sanction with a lower level one (template letter DP35 or DP38) Uphold the appeal - and reverse the original decision (template letter DP36 or DP38)

This ends the appeals process.