6th May 2020

Can disciplinary proceedings still continue?

During the lockdown, one of the questions we have frequently been asked (that does not relate to furlough leave anyway) is whether disciplinary proceedings can continue, including where the employee is on furlough leave.

Acas has issued guidance for employers on handling disciplinary and grievance processes during the coronavirus crisis.

This confirms that grievance and disciplinary proceedings can be conducted during furlough leave.

So what does this mean for you?

The guidance emphasises that employers need to give careful consideration about whether disciplinary proceedings should continue and, if a disciplinary hearing is to be held, the guidance sets out how the hearing should be conducted, including by video conferencing and adhering to social distancing.

The team and I have come across numerous examples of unions saying that such proceedings should be suspended and threatening Employment Tribunal proceedings if they continue. This is therefore welcome guidance for employers who, having given it careful thought, have decided to proceed.

My advice is that if the allegations potentially amount to gross misconduct and grounds for dismissal, employers should be able to justify continuing subject to complying with the measures set out in the guidance and acting reasonably as in a normal case. If the allegations are less serious and dismissal is not being contemplated, you can proceed if the employee agrees and, if not, it may be better to delay.

Need some advice on handling potential disciplinary matters,  we’re here for you – just get in touch.

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