This disciplinary procedure applies only to staff engaged on contract of employment 3.HR.REC.005.

VGC does not intend to impose unreasonable rules of conduct on its employees. However, certain standards of behaviour are necessary to maintain good employment relations and discipline in the interest of all employees.

VGC prefers that discipline be voluntary and self-imposed; in the great majority of cases this is how it works.

However, from time to time, the company may have to take action if someone’s level of behaviour or performance is unacceptable.

The following procedure will be applied fairly when the company’s management regards disciplinary action to be necessary. For some minor acts of misconduct a reprimand will be given.

The company reserves the right not to follow the procedure for any employee who has less than two year’s continuous employment.

Actions before taking a decision to discipline or dismiss an employee

1. Investigation

A manager or HR representative will promptly and thoroughly investigate any matter that is reasonably suspected to contravene VGC’s policies or rules.

Depending on the circumstances, you may be invited to attend an investigatory interview. If such an interview is held before a disciplinary hearing, there is no right for you to be accompanied at a formal investigatory interview. The company reserves the right to dispense with an investigatory interview and to proceed directly to a formal disciplinary hearing.

2. Disciplinary meeting

If, after an investigation, there are reasonable grounds to believe that you have committed an act of misconduct, VGC will write to you. The letter will notify you of the allegations against you, and invite you to a disciplinary meeting to discuss the matter.

You will be given the opportunity to state your case. You will have the right to be accompanied to the meeting by a work colleague or a full time official employed by a trade union or a lay official, as long as they have been certified in writing by their union as having experience of, or as having received training in, acting as a worker’s companion at disciplinary and grievance hearings. You must make every effort to attend the meeting. Following the meeting we will inform you of any decision within a reasonable time.

3. Right to appeal

If you wish to appeal against the decision, please write, stating the grounds for appeal, within five working days of the decision. You will be invited to attend an appeal meeting chaired by a senior manager. You have the right to be accompanied to the meeting by a work colleague or a full time official employed by a trade union or a lay official (as long as they have been certified in writing by their union as having experience of, or as having received training in, acting as a worker’s companion at disciplinary and grievance hearings). At the appeal meeting you will be able to state your case. After the appeal meeting you will be informed of the appeal decision in writing. The company’s decision on an appeal will be final.

4. Disciplinary sanctions

As appropriate the following sanctions may be applied.

a. Written warning

You may be given a formal written warning. You will be advised of the reason for the warning and what you need to do to improve your conduct or performance. The letter will also include the consequences if you do not comply with the terms of the disciplinary warning. The written warning will be nullified after a set time, if your conduct and performance are satisfactory.

b. Final written warning

If your performance or contact does not improve after a warning has been issued, or if the misconduct or poor performance is serious, VGC will issue a final written warning. You will be advised of the reason for the warning and what you need to do to improve your conduct or performance. The letter will also include the consequences if you do not comply with the terms of the disciplinary warning. The written warning will be recorded and nullified after a set time, subject to satisfactory conduct and performance. The company reserves the right to extend the validity of the final written warning to a maximum of three years in cases of very serious misconduct or where the employee has a history of misconduct issues.

c. Dismissal

Failure to meet the requirements set out in the final written warning will normally lead to dismissal with appropriate notice. If VGC establishes that an employee has committed an act of gross misconduct, that employee may be summarily dismissed. A decision of this kind will only be made after a full investigation. You will be informed of the reason for dismissal, the appropriate notice period, and the date on which your employment will be terminated and how you can appeal against the decision.

5. Suspension

In the event of an allegation of serious or gross misconduct, you may be immediately suspended from work. The company has the right to suspend you without payment if it has the reason to believe that you are guilty of gross misconduct. Any decision to suspend will be confirmed in writing. The letter will state that the nature of suspension is precautionary, not disciplinary, pending the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings. Suspension is a neutral act which does not imply guilt or blame, and will be for as short a period as possible.

6. Gross Misconduct

Gross misconduct is misconduct of such a serious and fundamental nature that it breaches the contractual relationship between the employee and the company. If an employee commits an act of gross misconduct, the company will be entitled to terminate summarily the employee’s contract of employment without notice or pay in lieu of notice.

7. Demotion

As an alternative to issuing a written warning or dismissal, VGC reserves the right to demote the employee. This will be done by notice in writing to the employee. The company also reserves the right to impose a reduction in the employee’s pay for the period of demotion. The written notice will detail any changes to your terms and conditions of employment arising from such demotion. In particular, the notice will give details of any reduction to salary and any loss of benefits arising from the demotion.

8. No disciplinary meeting

There are two main situations when the company may not hold a disciplinary meeting. They are:

  • cases of extreme gross misconduct, where the company has no alternative but to dismiss you immediately
  • if the company is not considering dismissal and the company does not think that there is any real purpose in holding a formal meeting (for example if the issue is relatively minor and it would be disproportionate to conduct a formal investigation and meeting).

However, in either of these two situations you still have the right to appeal, and you can request a formal meeting in the appeal process.

If you are dismissed immediately for gross misconduct (as set out above) you will receive written notification within seven days of your dismissal setting out the misconduct which led to your dismissal and the basis of the decision. You then have the right to appeal.

This disciplinary procedure is entirely non-contractual and does not form part of your terms and conditions of employment.

 

Ciara Pryce
Group services director

October 2018