In our comprehensive article on unfair dismissal
, we discussed how, when deciding the outcome of an unfair dismissal claim, the Employment Tribunal will consider whether you, as the employer, and your employee have abided by the Acas Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance Procedures (the ACAS code).
In this brief guide, our Employment Solicitors will explain what the ACAS code is and the main guidance it provides regarding disciplinary and grievance procedures and hearings.
What is the ACAS Code?
ACAS is the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service - a public body mandated to improve organisations and working life through the promotion and facilitation of strong industrial relations practice.
The ACAS Code provides a practical guide for employers, employees, and their representatives on how to handle work-related disciplinary and grievance procedures and hearings.
Redundancy and non-renewal of fixed-term contracts are not covered by the ACAS Code.
Although it is not a legal requirement to follow the ACAS Code, the Employment Tribunal will consider whether the Code was considered, and if so, how its guidance was implemented if a claim is brought before it.
If the Tribunal believes that you did not follow the ACAS Code and therefore your employee was unfairly dismissed, it can increase the compensation awarded (referred to as an Award) by up to 25 percent. Conversely, should the Tribunal conclude your employee did not follow the guidance in the Code, they can reduce any Award made by 25 percent.
What is included in the ACAS Code?
The key provisions in the Code are as follows:
- Disciplinary and grievance matters should be handled informally whenever possible. Informal processes are the fastest and most effective way to handle minor disciplinary matters and poor performance.
- If informal measures fail to resolve the matter, the employer should consider bringing in a third party to mediate.
- Employers must carry out a thorough and fair investigation to establish the facts of a particular case.
- Matters should be resolved quickly.
- No decisions should be made before the employee has had a chance to tell their side of the story.
- Employees have a right to appeal any decision.
- Employees can have a support person with them during meetings.
Ensuring you abide by the ACAS Code can protect you from having an unfair dismissal claim being brought against you. At LawBite, our Employment Lawyers are highly experienced in advising and representing SMEs on all aspects of employment law, including the ACAS Code.