Disciplinary Policy And Procedures

Do I have any legal obligation in relation to the provision of disciplinary procedures in the workplace?

What do I need to do to comply with the LRC Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures?

What are the principles of fair procedures and natural justice?

Why is a disciplinary policy necessary?

What are the essential elements of a disciplinary policy?


Do I have any legal obligation in relation to the provision of disciplinary procedures in the workplace?


While you do not have any specific legal obligations, the Labour Relations Commission published a Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures in 2000 which all employers are expected to comply with.  Although the code is not legally binding, external bodies such as the Labour Court, the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) and the Employment Appeals Tribunal do use it as a benchmark in assessing a case and they take a particularly harsh view of employers who are do not comply with the code.

If you are in any doubt about your compliance contact WorkplaceBullying for advice and for an expert assessment of your procedures.  Click here for more on our policy review services. 


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What do I need to do to comply with the LRC Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures?


To meet the requirements set down in the Code you:

    • Must have a written disciplinary policy in place which is easily understood
    • The policy should specify the procedures to be followed in disciplining an employee and these procedures should follow the principles of natural justice and fairness
    • The policy should be given to all employees at the start of their employment and refresher training should be provided at intervals
    • All managers and supervisors should have a clear understanding of their respective roles and responsibilities in effecting the disciplinary procedure and should adhere to the procedure at all times 

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What are the principles of fair procedures and natural justice?


Your disciplinary procedure must follow the principles of natural justice and fairness which include:

      • That employee grievances are fairly examined and processed
      • That details of any allegations or complaints are put to the employee concerned
      • That the employee concerned is given the opportunity to respond fully to any such allegations or complaints
      • That the employee concerned is given the opportunity to avail of the right to be represented during the procedure
      • That the employee concerned has the right to a fair and impartial determination of the issues concerned, taking into account any representations made by, or on behalf of, the employee and any other relevant or appropriate evidence, factors or circumstances 

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Why is a disciplinary policy necessary?


A disciplinary policy is necessary to:

      • Meet the requirements under the Code of Practice
      • Reaffirm the expected conduct, behaviour or performance levels
      • Provide clarity on the consequences of failing to meet the required standards
      • Outline opportunities for improvement with an agreed timeframe
      • Detect underlying causes such as training requirements or personal problems for example

While punitive in nature, the aim of a disciplinary policy should be focused, where appropriate, on correcting under performance, poor conduct or unacceptable behaviour. 


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What are the essential elements of a disciplinary policy?


A disciplinary policy should include the following:

      • The stated aims and objectives of the policy
      • Statement of compliance with the Code of Practice
      • Definitions as necessary (progressive discipline, misconduct, gross misconduct, for example)
      • The various stages involved (for example oral warning, first written warning, final written warning, dismissal)
      • The duration of the warnings (for example, a first written warning may be in place for six months and final written warning for 12 months)
      • The possible sanctions
      • A description of all elements of the disciplinary procedure (for example investigation, disciplinary hearing, disciplinary outcome meeting, appeal process)
      • Statement with regard to confidentiality
      • Provisions for policy review

WorkplaceBullying offers a policy writing and review service.  Click here for more information.


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