An employee's behaving badly


This is not good and you’ve got every right to protect your business and your workforce from what’s happening. The good news is that the law will help you do this - as will we.

Depending on the exact facts about the behaviour you’re concerned about and how long the employee has worked for you and on what terms, you’ve got a number of options.

We’ll explore these options with you and we’ll be keen to find out how you feel about key considerations impacting our recommendation about which options might suit you best. For example, we’ll want to know whether you’d like to keep the employee (or legally can keep the employee if they’ve done something criminal, for example) and what you believe the employee will do once he/she learns you’ve started an internal procedure to deal with their performance or suspects that you’ve taken legal advice.

A common reaction from an employee feeling defensive, and possibly frightened, is to throw back at you a number of counter accusations, such as you unfairly discriminated against the employee. You should be prepared for this - employees increasingly adopt this tactic when faced with internal disciplinary or dismissal meetings.

As an employer, you’re legally obliged to have clear and fair disciplinary and dismissal procedures in place so that unacceptable behaviour by employees is efficiently handled, stopped and everyone affected by what has happened is treated with respect. Generally, the focus of disciplinary action is to get the employee to improve and so the emphasis of the interactions at this stage should be to gather and present evidence of where the employee is not meeting the desired standards and clearly showing what is required.

There are quite a few rules about how these processes should be handled and some unavoidable components that you have to include in your procedures - which we’ll explain a bit further on.

Generally, you should expect all instances of bad conduct to first undergo a disciplinary process and then, if necessary, lead to a dismissal action. In cases where the poor conduct is so serious that there is a breakdown of your relationship with the employee, then you would expect the disciplinary procedure to lead to a dismissal action immediately after the disciplinary procedure. Such situations might include where an employee has stolen something, been dishonest in another way or has been grossly careless or grossly negligent.

If you want more information you can always take a look at the ACAS Code of Practice 1 on disciplinary and grievance procedures here. On this page we’ll show you exactly what’s involved in each stage of a typical disciplinary process, including what happens if you decide that you want to dismiss the employee and what are your options if you actually don’t. We’ll cover how long you should expect each stage to take, and what it might cost. And if you’d like to, you can ask us to take of care of it immediately, online.

Your next stages
  • To find out precisely what happens during each stage of the process - and for average timings and costs - click on the section below.
  • Overview
  • Stage 1 Detailed review of your situation
  • Stage 2 Taking the first steps
  • Stage 3 The disciplinary meeting
  • Stage 4 Producing and communicating a disciplinary decision
  • Stage 5 If the employee appeals
  • Stage 6 Closing the file