Key Considerations in Preparing a Disciplinary/Grievance Outcome LetterPosted in : Back to Basics on 27 August 2019
In the fourth of our ‘Back to Basics’ video series, Jill Gracey, Associate Solicitor in the A&L Goodbody Employment and Incentives team, discusses the steps involved in preparing a letter to confirm the outcome of a Disciplinary or Grievance matter. This includes ensuring that all the evidence has been gathered; all allegations are addressed separately and the right of appeal is included.
One task often assigned to HR professionals is to assist Grievance and Disciplinary officers with preparing outcome letters to grievance and disciplinary procedures. That's really important to ensure that as an HR professional, your input focuses on policy and procedural requirements and does not change the Grievance or Disciplinary officer's decision.
And this is because case law has confirmed that where HR's input extends into areas of culpability or where HR alters the outcome or sanction applied, this can compromise the fairness of the process and expose the employer to risk, should the employee pursue a tribunal claim. And it goes without saying that fairness and impartiality should be the foundations to all internal grievance and disciplinary procedures.
When it comes to preparing a written grievance or disciplinary outcome letter, these letters are often of critical importance in an Industrial Tribunal, and therefore care should be taken to ensure that the outcome is reasonable and does not fall foul of the concepts of fairness and impartiality.
Gathering all Relevant Evidence
And the first tip for preparing grievance or disciplinary outcome letters is to ensure that all the relevant evidence obtained during the investigation is considered. And this might include witness statements, CCTV footage, documents, or anything that is of relevance to the grievance or disciplinary allegations.
Sometimes there may be no conclusive evidence to confirm or reject an allegation, and often it can be one person's word against another's. And in this scenario, care should be taken to ensure that one version of events is not unjustifiably preferred against another person's version, particularly if there is no other evidence to support either version.
Set Out All Allegations
Another point to keep in mind is where there are numerous allegations within one grievance or disciplinary procedure. Sometimes, it is appropriate to address each allegation separately, and it should also be made clear whether each allegation is upheld, whether in full or in part, or if it isn't upheld. And where relevant, action points for grievance outcome or a disciplinary sanctions for a disciplinary outcome should also be set out clearly in the outcome letter.
Include Right of Appeal
Finally, a key point to keep in mind is to confirm details of the employee's right to appeal the outcome, and these details should be set out within the letter and should also be consistent with the employer's relevant policy or procedure.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the grievance or disciplinary, an employer may need to tailor their approach to conducting grievance or disciplinary procedures.
So please do contact a member of the ALG employment team for tailored legal advice and practical guidance for conducting internal HR procedures.This article is correct at 27/08/2019
The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.