Your rights in disciplinary and grievance procedures during coronavirus

25/03/2021

We’re all aware that many workplaces continue to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, however employment law and the Acas Code of Practice concerning disciplinary and grievance procedures still apply. If you are facing disciplinary action or grievance procedures, you must be aware of your rights and how these might be affected by coronavirus restrictions. 

Tracy Worthington, a Partner in the employment team here at FBC Manby Bowdler, considers what you need to know to protect your rights in disciplinary and grievance procedures during the ongoing pandemic.

Furloughed workers

If you are currently on furlough, it is still possible to be involved in disciplinary or grievance procedures.

While on furlough, you can still take part in a grievance or disciplinary investigation or hearing and raise a grievance.

Practical challenges

Under the Acas Code of Practice, 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 meeting social distancing measures and avoiding in-person meetings where possible.

As a result, there may be practical challenges to progressing your disciplinary or grievance, but your employer must attempt to proceed in a safe, fair and reasonable manner. If this is not possible, they should consider whether it would be fair to suspend proceedings until a later date.

Suspending proceedings

When deciding if proceedings should be suspended, your employer should consider the case's individual circumstances. For example, the matter may be urgent if it deals with gross misconduct or unlawful harassment. However, minor disciplinary issues may be more appropriately dealt with at a later date.

If your case has the potential to result in an employment tribunal, your employer must be mindful of the time limit for bringing forward 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. Your employer may conduct a video meeting, interview or hearing so long as the process is fair and reasonable.

However, when doing so, your employer 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 any meetings conducted via video may be recorded. However, everyone involved must agree to the meeting being recorded.

If you are concerned about a workplace disciplinary or grievance procedure, or for help and advice Tracy can be contacted on 01902 392476 or by email at tracy.worthington@fbcmb.co.uk

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