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While many workplaces continue to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, employment law and the Acas Code of Practice concerning disciplinary and grievance procedures still apply. If you are dealing  with disciplinary or grievance procedures, there are some additional matters that you must take into account.

Furloughed workers

If workers are currently on furlough, it is still possible for disciplinary or grievance procedures to apply. Whilst on furlough, your staff may:

  • Take part in a grievance or disciplinary investigation or hearing
  • Raise a grievance

Practical challenges

Under the Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures, disciplinary and grievance procedures must always be fair and reasonable. However, while the coronavirus pandemic continues, they must also be in line with public health guidelines, including social distancing and avoiding workplaces where possible. As a result, there may be practical challenges to holding disciplinary or grievance procedures, but they must continue without undue delay. Employers must attempt to proceed in a safe, fair and reasonable manner. If this is not possible, they must consider whether it would be fair to suspend proceedings until a later date.

Suspending proceedings

In deciding whether proceedings should be suspended, Employers should consider the case’s individual circumstances. For example, the matter may be urgent, where it deals with gross misconduct or unlawful harassment. However, minor disciplinary issues may be dealt with at a later date where appropriate.

If a matter may result in an employment tribunal, those involved must be mindful of the time limit for bringing a claim.

Can a disciplinary or grievance procedure be carried out remotely?

Yes. Video meetings can form part of any investigation into disciplinary or grievance matters. Employers may conduct a video meeting, interview or hearing so long as the process is fair and reasonable. Employers must consider whether:

  • All parties have adequate access to the technology required to take part in a video meeting
  • Any party has a disability or any other accessibility issues which may affect their ability to take part
  • It is possible to access all of the evidence required to conduct the investigation or hearing, and whether all parties can access the evidence during the video hearing.
  • It is possible to assess the evidence and question the relevant parties fairly during a video hearing

Will a video hearing be recorded?

Employers must keep a record of any disciplinary or grievance procedures carried out, and such procedures conducted via video may be recorded in principle. However, everyone involved must agree to the meeting being recorded. If there is no agreement, then notes will simply have to be taken.

For more information on dealing with disciplinary and grievance meetings during the pandemic contact partner and employment specialist, Jon Dunkley

[email protected]

or call 01271 342268

Jon Dunkley