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Employment

Handling disciplinary and grievance procedures during COVID-19

On 6 May 2020, ACAS issued guidance for employers on how to handle disciplinary and grievance procedures during the coronavirus pandemic. The guidance reminds employers of the need to carry out a fair and reasonable procedure even during these unprecedented times. Some of the take away points are as follows:

  • Examples of when a person on furlough can take part in a disciplinary or grievance procedure include (but are not limited to) if they:

    • are under investigation;
    • have raised a grievance; or
    • are a witness at a hearing.

This is provided that they are taking part voluntarily and the procedure is conducted in line with the current public health guidance.

  • Ensure you adhere to social distancing guidelines if carrying out disciplinary or grievance procedures during this time and give consideration to the health and wellbeing of employees when deciding whether and how to proceed.

  • Consider whether a fair and reasonable procedure can be conducted if individuals involved in the procedure are on furlough or working from home.

Take into account the circumstances and sensitivity of the case, along with whether anyone involved objects to the procedure going ahead during this time.

  • If the procedure is to go ahead, consider whether investigation interviews and hearings can be fairly conducted via video meetings, including (but not limited to) whether:

    • the employee has access to technology;
    • there are any disability or accessibility issues; and
    • whether all the evidence can be obtained.

  • The right to be accompanied still applies even during remote working.

  • Individuals may be less available during the pandemic due to other commitments. Therefore, be flexible, and remember that, if a companion is unable to attend, the employee has the right to suggest an alternative reasonable date and time.

  • The employee’s right of appeal still applies.

  • There is no reason to record a meeting held remotely.

 

These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.

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