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Other Policies & Procedures - Disciplinary Procedures

Disciplinary Procedure for Support Staff

This procedure has been agreed by the Joint Unions Consultative Committee in consultation with the University. The aim of this procedure is to ensure that University staff will be treated fairly and consistently when a disciplinary matter arises, and that the University's interests will be protected.  To download a copy of the Disciplinary Procedure for Support Staff please click the link below:

Introduction

1. This procedure has been agreed by the Joint Unions Consultative Committee in consultation with the University. The aim of this procedure is to ensure that University staff will be treated fairly and consistently when a disciplinary matter arises, and that the University's interests will be protected.

2. This procedure will apply to all support staff, except in the following circumstances:-

a) At the expiry of fixed-term contracts.

b) To staff defined in Section XXV of the Statutes of the University.

3. It is the responsibility of Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments, in conjunction with Human Resource Management, to ensure that staff are aware of this procedure. This will be done by giving existing staff their own copy of the procedure and by issuing a copy to all new staff on commencement of their employment.

4. Staff in Human Resources Management (ie. HR Advisor, Human Resources Management Team and Director of Human Resources) will provide advice and guidance to Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments, supervisors and employees on the operation of the procedure.

Disciplinary Matters

1. This procedure is intended to apply to situations where there is evidence that the work performance or behaviour of an employee is considered to be unsatisfactory by his/her supervisor. It is important that the supervisor or Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments investigates each case thoroughly and seeks advice from a HR Advisor before any action is taken.

2. A case which may involve disciplinary action should be examined with the minimum delay. The facts should be clearly established and normally the employee concerned should have the opportunity to state his/her case.

3. In certain circumstances, the Chief Operating Officer, may consider it necessary to invoke the disciplinary procedure in respect of any employee's conduct. In such circumstances, the Chief Operating Officer will inform the Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments before any action is taken.

Pre-Disciplinary Counselling

1. If there is evidence that the work performance or behaviour of an employee is considered to be unsatisfactory by his/her supervisor, then the normal course of action, in the first instance (except in cases of alleged gross misconduct), will be pre-disciplinary counselling by the supervisor. The matter will be discussed with the employee, in private.

2. A written note of pre-disciplinary counselling will be prepared by the Supervisor, only to the extent of recording that the meeting had taken place and summarising the general areas covered. The Supervisor will send a copy to the member of staff and to Human Resources Management for the personal file. If the pre-disciplinary counselling fails to resolve the matter, then it should be pursued under the formal disciplinary procedure.

3. Where the supervisor concludes that further disciplinary action is not appropriate, it should be explained to the employee that no further action will be taken in this instance.

THE FORMAL PROCEDURE

Stage 1

1. When a disciplinary matter arises for which pre-disciplinary counselling is not considered appropriate, the Supervisor will consult a member of the Human Resources Management Team and the Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments.

2. If it is agreed that action beyond pre-disciplinary counselling is necessary, the Supervisor will:-

a) Inform the employee, in private, of the allegations against him/her.

b) Give the employee at least twenty-four hours notice of the time and venue of the disciplinary interview, in order that he/she may prepare a reply.

c) Advise the employee of his/her right to be accompanied at the disciplinary interview by a trade union representative, or another member of staff.

3. If the employee chooses not to be accompanied, then the Supervisor may request that, with the agreement of the employee, a member of the Human Resources Management Team attends the disciplinary interview.

4. At the disciplinary interview, the Supervisor will:-

a) Explain to the employee why his/her conduct/performance falls short of the required standard.

b) Give the employee the opportunity to explain his/her behaviour.

c) Adjourn the meeting for a short period in order to consider what action is appropriate.

d) Reconvene the meeting and inform the employee of the decision.

5. If, after careful consideration, there is satisfactory evidence of a disciplinary problem, then the Supervisor will:-

a) Advise the employee that he/she will be issued with a formal oral warning which constitutes the first formal stage of the procedure and that this will remain in force for a period of six months.

b) Inform the employee what performance and/or behaviour is required and set a realistic timescale for improvement. Consideration will be given to the provision of training where appropriate.

c) Explain to the employee what action may be taken if the performance and/or behaviour required is not met, or if further problems arise which warrant disciplinary action.

d) Inform the employee of his/her right of appeal and explain the appeals procedure.

6. Following the disciplinary interview, the supervisor will confirm, in writing, to the employee:-

a) The incident(s) which gave rise to the warning.

b) The employee's explanation of his/her conduct.

c) The standard of performance/behaviour required.

d) The disciplinary action which has been taken and its duration.

e) The action to which the employee may be liable if there is no improvement or if there are further problems which warrant disciplinary action.

7. The supervisor will send a copy of the report to Human Resources Management for retention on the employee's personal file, where it will remain in force for a period of six months from the date of the disciplinary interview.

Stage 2

1. If there is no improvement in the timescale given or if another disciplinary problem arises, the Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments will consult with the Director of Human Resources.

2. If it is agreed that further disciplinary action is required, the Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments will:-

a) Inform the employee, in private, of the allegations against him/her.

b) Give the employee at least twenty-four hours notice of the time and venue of the disciplinary interview, in order that he/she may prepare a reply.

c) Advise the employee of his/her right to be accompanied at the disciplinary interview by a trade union representative, or another member of staff.

3. At the disciplinary interview the Director of Human Resources will be present and the Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments will:-

a) Explain to the employee why his/her conduct/performance falls short of the required standard.

b) Give the employee the opportunity to explain his/her behaviour.

c) Adjourn the meeting for a short period in order to consider what action is appropriate.

d) Reconvene the meeting and inform the employee of the decision.

4. If, after careful consideration, there is satisfactory evidence of a disciplinary problem, then the Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments will:-

a) Advise the employee that he/she will be issued with a formal written warning which constitutes the second formal stage of the procedure and that this will remain in force for a period of twelve months.

b) Inform the employee what performance and/or behaviour is required and set a realistic timetable for improvement. Consideration will be given to the provision of training where appropriate.

c) Explain to the employee that further unsatisfactory conduct/performance may lead to dismissal.

d) Inform the employee of his/her right of appeal and explain the appeals procedure.

5. Following the disciplinary interview the Director of Human Resources will confirm, in writing, to the employee:-

a) The incident(s) which gave rise to the warning.

b) The employee's explanation of his/her conduct.

c) The standard of performance/behaviour required.

d) The disciplinary action which may have been taken and its duration.

e) That further unsatisfactory conduct/performance may lead to dismissal.

6. The Director of Human Resources will send a copy of the report to the employee, the Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments and will retain a copy for the employee's personal file in Human Resources, where it will remain in force for a period of twelve months from the date of the disciplinary interview.

7. No employee who has received a warning under Stage 2 will be considered for the award of a salary increment within twelve months from the date of the warning.

Stage 3

1. If there is no improvement in the timescale given or if another disciplinary problem arises, the Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments will consult with the Director of Human Resources.

2. If it is agreed that further disciplinary action is required, the Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments will:-

a) Inform the employee, in private, of the allegations against him/her.

b) Give the employee at least twenty-four hours notice of the time and venue of the disciplinary interview, in order that he/she may prepare a reply.

c) Advise the employee of his/her right to be accompanied at the disciplinary interview by a trade union representative, or another member of staff.

3. At the disciplinary interview the Director of Human Resources will be present and the Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments will:-

a) Explain to the employee why his/her conduct/performance falls short of the required standard.

b) Give the employee the opportunity to explain his/her behaviour.

c) Adjourn the meeting for a short period in order to consider what action is appropriate.

d) Reconvene the meeting and inform the employee of the decision.

4. If, after careful consideration, there is satisfactory evidence of a disciplinary problem, then the Director of Human Resources will recommend to the Chief Operating Officer that the employee is dismissed with notice or paid in lieu of notice.

5. If the Chief Operating Officer decides to dismiss the employee, the letter of dismissal will be issued by him/her. In accordance with the Conditions of Service, this letter will state:-

a) The grounds for dismissal.

b) The right of the employee to appeal to Council within fourteen days, and a copy of the Appeals Procedure to Council will be enclosed.

c) The right to be accompanied by either his/her full-time trade union officer, or a member of staff.

6. If the Chief Operating Officer is not satisfied that dismissal is appropriate, then he/she will meet with the Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments and the Director of Human Resources to discuss the matter.

7. If, following the meeting, the University Chief Operating Officer still considers that dismissal is not warranted, he/she will inform the Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments and the Director of Human Resources and indicate what action, if any, should be taken.

Suspension

1. Suspension will only be used in cases of potentially serious or alleged gross misconduct, where it is considered necessary by the Supervisor, or Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments, to remove an employee(s) from the workplace, in order to allow further investigation.

2. Suspension will be with full pay and may only be authorised by the Chief Operating Officer, or, in the event of his/her absence or unavailability, by a nominated person.

First and Final Warning

1. There may be occasions when misconduct is considered to fall short of gross misconduct and, therefore, be insufficiently serious to justify summary dismissal, but sufficiently serious to warrant only one formal warning which, in effect, will be both first and final. This procedure can be implemented at any stage, according to the seriousness of the offence, following consultation with the Director of Human Resources.

APPEALS PROCEDURE

1. If the employee considers that at any stage prior to dismissal, the warning is unjustified he/she has the right to appeal to the next level of management, and the employee will be informed who is the appropriate manager by a member of the Human Resources Management Team.

2. Appeals should be lodged in writing within seven days of receipt of the written confirmation of the disciplinary interview, indicating the reasons for the appeal.

3. On receipt of the written appeal the named manager will:-

a) Arrange to see the employee at the earliest possible opportunity, the date to be agreed between the employee and the person hearing the appeal.

b) Inform the employee that he/she has the right to be accompanied at the appeal by either his/her departmental or branch trade union representative, or another member of staff.

4. If, however, after the hearing, the named manager considers that the appeal should be upheld, then he/she will:-

a) Inform the employee in person of the decision.

b) Write to the employee confirming the warning will be withdrawn.

c) Send a copy to Human Resources Management for retention on the employee's personal file for a period of twelve months.

d) Send a copy to the supervisor Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments who issued the warning.

5. If, however, the manager considers that the warning is justified, he/she will:-

a) Inform the employee in person of the decision.

b) Write to the employee confirming the decision.

c) Send a copy to Human Resources Mangement for retention on the employee's personal file for a period of twelve months.

d) Send a copy to the Supervisor or Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments who issued the warning.

GROSS MISCONDUCT

1. Gross Misconduct is defined as misconduct of such a nature that it fundamentally breaches the contract of employment and makes the University unable to tolerate the continued employment of the employee concerned.

2. The following are presented as examples of gross misconduct and should not be taken to represent a definitive list:-

  • Unauthorised removal of University property.
  • Theft of either University property or property belonging to members of staff.
  • Physical assault.
  • Falsification of time sheets or expense claims.
  • Malicious damage to University property.
  • Personal harassment.
  • Breach of the Code of Practice on Freedom of Speech.

Any action which may hinder the University in pursuing its objectives as defined in the Charter and Statutes, or prevents it from fulfilling its legal and regulatory obligations.

3. All cases of alleged gross misconduct must be reported as soon as possible by the Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments through Human Resources Management to the Chief Operating Officer.

4. The Chief Operating Officer will make a preliminary investigation into the allegation to establish whether there is prima facie evidence of gross misconduct.

5. If the Chief Operating Officer considers that there is not prima facie evidence of gross misconduct but there is evidence of less serious misconduct, the case will be dealt with under the University disciplinary procedure.

6. If the Chief Operating Officer considers that there is prima facie evidence of gross misconduct, he/she will refer the case to the Disciplinary Committee. The Chief Operating Officer may also suspend the employee, without reduction of salary, pending a decision on the case by the Disciplinary Committee.

7. This section has been agreed with the campus Trade Unions as an interim amendment to the existing scheme, effective from 19 November 2007, following dissolution of the Personnel and Employment Committee, and pending the overall review of the Disciplinary Procedure.

The Disciplinary Committee will be selected by the Chief Operating Officer and will comprise:

A Chair – normally a member of the Executive Team

A senior member of the academic staff

A senior member of the support staff

The committee will be serviced by an appropriate member of Human Resources.

No member will have had any previous involvement in the case. In the event of a case involving a member of the Chief Operating Officer's staff, the committee membership will be determined by the Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor.

8. The Disciplinary Committee shall have the following terms of reference:-

a) To enquire into any case of alleged gross misconduct referred to it by the Chief Operating Officer under paragraph 6 of this procedure.

b) To consider and decide whether the conduct of any employee subject to enquiry amounts to gross misconduct.

c) To then decide what disciplinary action, if any, should be taken against the employee.

d) To inform the employee of the decision of the Committee.

e) To report the decision to the Executive.

9. The Disciplinary Committee shall proceed as follows:-

Prior to the Committee Meeting

a) The employee will be informed of the allegation(s) against him/her.

b) The Committee shall obtain oral and/or written evidence from any person at its discretion.

c) He/she shall be informed of the composition of the Committee.

d) He/she shall be informed of the right to be accompanied by either his/her trade union representative, or a member of staff.

e) He/she shall receive, not less than seven days before the meeting of the Committee, copies of any documents circulated to the Committee.

At the Committee Meeting

a) He/she shall have the opportunity, at the meeting, of answering the allegations against him/her either orally or in writing.

b) He/she may request that the Committee examine particular witnesses, or consider any other evidence relevant to the case.

10. The Disciplinary Committee shall have the following powers of disciplinary action:-

a) Summary dismissal for gross misconduct.

b) In circumstances where there are judged to be mitigating circumstances or where misconduct is considered to fall short of the gross kind:-

  • To issue, through the Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments, any stage of disciplinary procedure as determined appropriate by the Committee.
  • Suspension of incremental progression along the scale for a period of one year.
  • Downgrading and/or transfer.

12. An employee who is subject to this procedure may appeal to Council in accordance with the Appeals to Council Procedure (see below).

This procedure was approved by Council on 15 February 1989 and reviewed in March 1991, subject to the interim amendment under the section headed Gross Misconduct, section 7, agreed with the Campus Trade Union.

APPEALS TO COUNCIL

Where it is a condition of service that an employee may appeal to Council on a matter affecting his/her employment, Council has agreed the following procedure for the hearing of such appeals:-

I. The appellant must notify the Chief Operating Officer in writing and must state the grounds for the appeal and give details of the attempts which have been made to resolve the matter with the Officers of the University.

II. It is the responsibility of the Pro-Chancellor to appoint a Committee of three Council members, one to be the Chair, to hear the appeal and to recommend what action, if any, Council shall take on the matter. The terms of reference shall be decided by the Pro-Chancellor and confirmed by Council at its next meeting.

III. A Secretary of the Committee shall be appointed from the staff of the Registry, and the Secretary shall have no previous involvement in the matter which is the subject of the appeal.

IV. The Committee shall proceed on the basis given below:-

A) The appellant shall be present, accompanied, if he/she wishes, by a representative, and either or both shall present the appellant's case.

B) The University representatives shall be the Executive Deans/Heads of Support Departments, and the Chief Operating Officer, and either or both shall present a case for the University.

C) Each party shall present its case in the presence of the other party. Both parties may question each other through the Chair.

D) Having heard the cases, the Committee, before arriving at a decision, may call upon any member of the University whom it considers can provide additional information. He/she will be heard in the presence of both parties who may ask questions through the Chair.

E) The Committee shall then prepare its report to Council and a copy of this shall be sent to all parties involved.

F) The appellant shall be notified that he/she and, if he/she wishes, his/her representative, also have the right to attend that part of the meeting of Council at which the report is to be considered and to speak at any meeting. They will withdraw before the report is discussed. Any other parties present who have an interest should declare that interest and may be required by the Chair of the Council to withdraw.

This document has been amended only to the extent necessary to reflect the changes to the University's academic reorganisation.

HR/COV/JR
02/10/2013 HR/00/3(amended version)

Last updated at 11:16am on 05/10/09