Taking disciplinary action against an employee

Last updated: 8 December 2017

Writing disciplinary proceedings

Your disciplinary procedures should follow the Acas code of practice.

Not following the code isn't illegal. However, if someone wins an employment tribunal against you and you didn't follow the code, then their award could be up to 25% more.

The exact rules will depend on your organisation, but could cover things like:

  • acceptable and unacceptable behaviour
  • absence and timekeeping
  • health and safety
  • use of phones and the internet

You can't normally discipline or dismiss an employee for whistleblowing (/whistleblowing/).

Gross misconduct

Your disciplinary rules should give examples of what will be treated as gross misconduct. This is misconduct judged so serious that it's likely to lead to dismissal without notice, eg fraud, theft and physical violence.

Telling employees about disciplinary rules

Your disciplinary rules must be in your statement of employment (/employment-contracts/) or clearly written elsewhere, eg in a staff handbook.

The rules should clearly say when someone might face disciplinary action and what that action could be.

You must also give the name of someone they should appeal to if they're unhappy about a disciplinary decision.

If you don't provide this information and an employee then wins an employment tribunal claim against you, they could be awarded 2 to 4 weeks' pay.

Disciplinary procedures and contracts

If you make your disciplinary procedures part of an employment contract then the employee could make a breach of contract claim against you if you don't follow your procedures.

Example letters and forms

Acas has a number of sample letters and forms for disciplinary proceedings on its website.

Taking disciplinary action against an employee
Writing disciplinary proceedings