Carey Olsen seminar examines disciplinary procedures

Posted: 22/04/2013

Mark Dunster, Rachel Richardson and Elaine Gray
Carey Olsen's Guernsey employment lawyers have reminded managers and HR professionals about the importance of having clear disciplinary rules and explained how to carry out a disciplinary investigation as part of their disciplinary procedures.

The breakfast briefing, the first in this year's series of employment seminars from the law firm, was led by partner Mark Dunster, of counsel Elaine Gray, and senior associate Rachel Richardson. The speakers outlined key stages in the disciplinary process with particular attention paid to the importance of the investigation undertaken by an employer if a disciplinary issue occurs.

“Investigation is a crucial stage in the disciplinary process and should be conducted so as to ensure that all relevant facts are collected in a fair, reasonable and objective manner. Failure to investigate could impact on the employer's case if a claim is brought against the organisation," said Advocate Gray.

She added that: "The disciplinary process can be a stressful time for an employee and the employer should be careful to ensure that employees are treated with courtesy and respect throughout the process, not least to avoid any suggestion that the outcome of the process has been pre-judged."

Rachel Richardson said that although employers in Guernsey have no statutory obligation to specify disciplinary rules and procedures in the workplace, it is best practice to do so.

“From the outset employers should make staff aware of what conduct is and is not acceptable and the implications should the employee breach those rules. Managers should also be trained in disciplinary rules and procedures. Having these procedures in place will a) allow managers to act fairly and consistently if a disciplinary issue arises and b) assist employers defending employment related claims.

Ms Richardson said: “Employers should keep records of any meeting held with the employee and ensure they record any warnings given, both written and verbal, as these records could be essential to defending any future unfair dismissal claim. Businesses should also offer employees the right to appeal any disciplinary action in order to rectify any issues.”

Advocate Dunster said: “It is, hopefully, rare for an employer to have to enforce their disciplinary procedures but employers must ensure that they have the relevant procedures in place should a disciplinary situation arise. The process needs to be handled carefully to make sure the employer does not breach the implied term of trust and confidence in the employment contract and is consistent in its approach."

The Carey Olsen employment seminar series will continue on 6 June at St James with a session titled Capability (non-ill health and ill health). For more information, please contact Anna Coombs at Carey Olsen at:

Pictured (left to right): Carey Olsen partner Mark Dunster, senior associate, Rachel Richardson, and of counsel, Elaine Gray

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