First Tuesday Q&A

The claimant was dismissed by reason of gross misconduct and in particular.

Is there a statutory right to allow representation at investigation stage in Northern Ireland?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 07/06/2011 In short, no. Employees have the statutory right to be accompanied at disciplinary hearings (and grievance hearings) under the Employment Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1999. Meetings held simply for the purpose of investigating matters as part of the disciplinary process are not “disciplinary ...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Disciplinary and Grievance Issues

Can an employer discipline staff for using social networking sites during working hours?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 03/05/2011 Yes, especially if the employee’s usage is in breach of your IT/ Internet/Social Media Policy. Employers should ensure they have a policy on personal use of IT for this purpose, making it clear to employees what they can and cannot do. Discipline and dismissal will not necessarily be unreasonable i...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Disciplinary and Grievance Issues Policies and Procedures

What steps can we take to protect the business from employees publishing damaging material about it on a blog or networking site?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 03/05/2011 If the comments otherwise damage the employer’s reputation or are intended or likely to destroy the relationship of trust and confidence between employer and employee, discipline and dismissal may be a legitimate course of action. In the absence of any express contractual clause, an employee has im...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Unfair Dismissal Disciplinary and Grievance Issues

We currently have a system of four steps in our disciplinary procedure:

  1. Verbal warning
  2. Written warning
  3. Final written warning
  4. Dismissal

Would this be standard procedure and would we be covered legally?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 05/04/2011 In short, yes. The new LRA Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures hasn’t changed much in its recommendations in the area of warnings and sanctions. The Code encourages informal resolution where appropriate and emphasises that a "quiet word of caution or advice" may often be all t...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Disciplinary and Grievance Issues

Can absence due to sickness be used as part of selection criteria for selecting an employee for redundancy or could this be viewed as disability discrimination?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 01/03/2011 Absence can be used as part of selection criteria. However, if it is, it is important that the reasons for sickness absence are examined to mitigate the risk of a disability discrimination claim. For example, if an employee has been absent because of disability, you may need to consider adjusting t...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Redundancy and Reorganisation Sickness and Absence Disciplinary and Grievance Issues

When an employee is dismissed, is the six months in which they can take a claim from the date they were dismissed or the date of their appeal?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 01/03/2011 This question relates to provisions extending time to bring a claim under the Employment (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 (Dispute Resolution) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2004. On the basis this question relates to an unfair dismissal claim, this claim usually has to presented to a tribunal within ...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Unfair Dismissal Disciplinary and Grievance Issues

Could the company be liable for the actions of an employee who sexually harassed another employee? What constitutes sexual harassment?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 07/12/2010 The simple answer to the first question is yes. This is because the anti-discrimination legislation provides that anything done by the employee “in the course of his employment” is treated as done by the employer as well as by the employee, whether or not it was done with the employer’s knowledge o...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Disciplinary and Grievance Issues Discrimination and Equality

Can we discipline an employee for unauthorised absence as a result of a Christmas party?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 07/12/2010 In general, employers are lenient with staff returning to work after a Christmas party. You may feel, however, that if an employee calls in sick the day after the Christmas party, he or she is pulling a “sickie” due to the amount he or she drank the night before. You can treat unauthorised absence ...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Sickness and Absence Disciplinary and Grievance Issues

What can we do if an employee is caught taking drugs at the party?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 07/12/2010 As a general rule you are entitled to take a much tougher approach to drug abuse as opposed to alcohol abuse. The use of drugs at a work-related social event will justify disciplinary action, in appropriate cases including dismissal. As mentioned above, remember to follow a fair procedure and compl...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Disciplinary and Grievance Issues Policies and Procedures

Can we discipline an employee for being drunk at the Christmas party?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 07/12/2010 It really depends on the circumstances but in most cases the answer will be no. It would be difficult to discipline employees for being drunk per se, particularly when alcohol is often free (and free-flowing) at the party. That said drinking off duty can be a potentially fair reason for dismissal o...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Unfair Dismissal Disciplinary and Grievance Issues