8.2: Formal disciplinary procedure

If any disciplinary action beyond informal counselling is contemplated against a trade union official or accredited representative, Personnel Services should always first be consulted

8.2.1 Formal warnings

Disciplinary action involving, for example, dismissal or suspension may in certain serious situations not be preceded by formal or informal warning. Normally, however, it is anticipated that the first stage of the formal procedure will be a formal warning, issued in the course of a formal interview by the head of department or his or her nominee. The employee will have the right to state his or her case and to be accompanied at his or her request by a union representative, or by a colleague of his or her choice from within the University. The formal warning, if given, will be confirmed in writing to the employee, will specify the reasons for which it is given, and will specify the period of time allowed for the necessary improvement to be made. (The period allowed for improvement should in no case be less than one month or more than three months.) A copy of the formal warning should be sent to Personnel Services which will inform the appropriate union official.

If a first formal warning is not effective in producing the necessary improvement in work or behaviour, the head of department or his or her nominee should issue a second and final warning. The procedure will be as for the first formal warning, but the warning itself and the written confirmation should make it clear as to what further disciplinary action will be taken if the necessary improvement is not achieved within the specified period. The type of possible further disciplinary action should be clearly stated. Suspension without pay should be considered as an alternative to dismissal, but if either suspension without pay or dismissal is subsequently to be put into effect then the provisions of paragraph 8.2.4 below should be followed.

8.2.2 Serious misconduct or alleged serious misconduct

In cases of serious misconduct or alleged misconduct the employee(s) must not be dismissed instantly: rather the head of department, or the duly authorised person acting on his or her behalf, should normally suspend the employee concerned on the currently appropriate rate of pay pending an investigation and subsequent hearing. (The currently appropriate rate of pay is the basic pay to which the employee would be entitled under the terms of his or her contract were he or she not suspended. The currently appropriate rate of pay would normally be full pay; but it may for example be, or change during suspension to, half pay or no pay under the provisions of the University's sick pay scheme). All cases involving such suspension should be reported at once to Personnel Services, which will in turn notify the appropriate union representative. The subsequent hearing should normally be held within five days and the employee concerned will be informed of the complaint against him or her. The employee will have the right to state his or her case and be accompanied at his or her request by a union representative, or by a colleague of his or her choice from within the University.

Following the hearing described above, Personnel Services should be consulted before disciplinary action (if any) is taken. The head of department, or the duly authorised person acting on his behalf, will then inform the employee concerned, in writing, of (i) the disciplinary action (if any) which will be taken (see paragraph 8.2.4 below if this is to be dismissal) and (ii) the employee's right of appeal (see paragraph 8.2.5 below).

Examples of some acts at work for which after the due processes of investigation and hearing the disciplinary action of summary dismissal (i.e. dismissal without notice and without payment in lieu of notice) may result include theft, violence, wantonly endangering the safety of others, sexual or racial harassment (see paragraph 8.2.3 below), wilful damage to university property, and incapability through alcohol or being under the influence of illegal drugs.

8.2.3 Unacceptable behaviour at work which causes deep personal offence

Unacceptable behaviour at work which causes deep personal offence, including in particular racial or sexual harassment, will be treated as a serious disciplinary offence and may constitute gross misconduct leading to summary dismissal. Concerns relating to this form of behaviour should be pursued informally via senior members of staff in the complainant's department, trusted colleagues, union representatives or Personnel Services. If the matter cannot be resolved informally, the relevant grievance procedure should be pursued. Any disciplinary action taken as a result of such a complaint will be treated in accordance with the disciplinary procedure set out above.

In the case of harassment, concerns may also be raised informally with 'Confidential Advisers' nominated by your head of department in accordance with the University's Policy and Procedure relating to Harassment or with members of the Advisory Panel serving the whole University. The names of 'Confidential Advisers' should be publicised within your department. Members of the Panel may be contacted by telephone on a number specially designated for this purpose (tel.: 01865 (2)70760).

8.2.4 Suspension without pay or dismissal

If a department intends to dismiss an employee or suspend an employee without pay, then that employee must have been interviewed by the head of department, or, in his or her absence, the person acting on his or her behalf, at some stage in the immediate proceedings leading up to that disciplinary action. The employee must have had the right to state his or her case and to be accompanied by a union representative, or by a colleague of his or her choice from within the University, and - in the case of dismissal - the employee will be given the reasons for dismissal in writing normally within seven days.

Personnel Services should be consulted before the employee is interviewed. Where dismissal takes place, the employee, unless summarily dismissed, will normally receive payment in lieu of notice.

8.2.5 Appeals against disciplinary action

In the course of any interview which results in disciplinary action, whether that be formal warning, suspension, summary dismissal, or dismissal, the employee should be advised of his or her rights of appeal both orally and by being given a copy of these appeal procedures.

A person who is summarily dismissed and who appeals will be regarded as suspended without pay and if his or her appeal is upheld he or she will receive such back pay as the appeal body shall decide.

Notification procedure

Appeals against disciplinary action must be notified in writing to the Director of Human Resources within 10 working days of written confirmation of such action. The appellant should specify in writing their grounds for appeal, and the reasons why they are dissatisfied with the outcome at department or divisional level.

The Director of Human Resources will advise the Head of Department or Division as appropriate and make arrangements for the servicing of the appeal by an HR Business Partner (HRBP).

Appeal panel constitution under Statute XIV regarding a dismissal

Appeals notified in respect of a summary dismissal or dismissal arising from disciplinary action will be heard by a panel consisting of two members of the Personnel Committee and one member of Council who is not himself or herself a member of Personnel Committee.

If there are any grievance appeals related to the dismissal, the panel constituted under the Statute XIV regulations has the authority to deal with these at the same time.

Appeal panel constitution regarding a formal warning

Appeals notified in respect of a formal warning will be heard by a panel consisting of three members of staff, at grade 8 or above, (the panel chair will be more senior than the person who considered the original disciplinary hearing). They will have a balance of role types and one, if appropriate, may have experience relevant to the case being heard. The panel members will be eligible for membership of Congregation, external to the department concerned, and nominated by the Director of Human Resources. One will be asked to act as chair.

Appeal hearing

The appeal panel should, wherever possible, meet within one month to hear the case and all parties concerned should receive adequate notice, normally 5 days, of the hearing.

In some cases it may be appropriate for the appeal panel to gather information, via the HRBP, prior to the hearing. The employee should provide copies of any information which they consider relevant to their appeal, including any witness statements, according to the timescale set out by the HRBP. The department or division will normally respond within 10 working days to the grounds for appeal, setting out the steps taken to resolve or determine the matter and the rationale for the decision(s) with which the employee is dissatisfied.  The HRBP will ensure that all those involved receive any new material as soon as is practicable.  Normally, witnesses will be invited to attend the hearing and it will be at the discretion of the appeal panel chair whether any witness needs to attend to clarify anything from their witness statement.

The employee may invite a union representative or a full time officer of the employee's trade union (if he or she is a member) or a colleague, from within the University, to accompany them to the appeal hearing. The employee should advise the HRBP servicing the appeal hearing of the person who will accompany them, in good time before the hearing. The employee’s manager may also be accompanied by a colleague from within the University.

The appeal panel will review the grounds of appeal to decide whether the findings and/or outcome of the initial decision were appropriate and proportionate, and whether it was conducted through an appropriate procedure.

Outcome

The outcome of the appeal will be notified in writing to the department or the division concerned and to the appellant normally within 10 working days of the hearing. The outcome will be to uphold or revoke the original decision or to substitute a different, but not greater, penalty.

The decision of the appeal panel is final and there shall be no further appeal within the University.