Irrespective of size, employer should have documented disciplinary procedure that is publicised to its employees and contains right of appeal.
Decide whether procedure applies to poor performance as well as misconduct. If it applies only to misconduct, you need a separate capability procedure for performance issues.
Overriding objective is fairness. Obtain input from employees when developing the procedure.
You should notify employee of allegations of misconduct. You should investigate the allegations without undue delay so as to establish facts. Keep notes of interviews. You may need to conduct investigatory interview with employee. If so, you may decide to allow him to be accompanied by friend or colleague.
Only suspend employee with pay if absolutely necessary. It may destroy his reputation and make him feel unable to return to work. Any suspension should be as short as possible and kept under review.
If you decide there is case to answer, notify employee formally in writing. Letter should contain sufficient information to enable employee to prepare answer at disciplinary hearing. Provide copies of any written evidence, including witness statements, obtained as result of investigation.
Where practicable, person who carried out investigation should not be same person who conducts the disciplinary hearing. Any person who hears appeal should have no previous involvement with the case.
At hearing, you should explain the complaint and go through the evidence. If you wish to call witnesses, give employee notice of this in advance of hearing. Employee should be allowed to put forward his/her case in response, ask questions, present evidence and call relevant witnesses at the hearing.
Where outcome may be formal warning or other disciplinary action, employee has statutory right to be accompanied at disciplinary hearing by fellow employee, a trade union representative or official employed by trade union. He/she also has right to be accompanied at any appeal against the decision.
After hearing, decide on what disciplinary action to take, if any, and notify employee in writing.
In case of gross misconduct, you may decide to dismiss without notice for first offence. Your disciplinary procedure should list examples of behaviour you regard as gross misconduct. It is important your approach is consistent.
Any decision to dismiss should only be taken by a manager with authority to do so. Employee should be informed of decision as soon as possible, with reasons, and given date when his employment will end, his notice period and informed of right of appeal.