Disciplinary & Grievance Procedures

Disciplinary procedures can be tricky for your HR department and management in general. For employees and employers alike, these matters are often emotionally charged. It can be difficult to know what actions to take if clear procedures haven’t been established.

At Helix Law, we pride ourselves on being an ally for your organisation. We help both employers and employees understand their rights and obligations. Our team is well-versed in the Acas code of practice. We can help you with the disciplinary procedure companies must follow.

Below we’ve listed some of the basic steps for dealing with disciplinary actions and grievances. However, depending on your specific case, it might be beneficial to have a legal adviser to help you through the process.

Why Your Organisation Needs Written Disciplinary Procedures

Disciplinary procedures exist to help employees understand your expectations. In addition, they help employers protect their rights.

These written policies should be in your organisation’s employee handbook. You should also communicate these procedures to all work and line managers.

Nobody wants to have conflict in the workforce. However, having clear disciplinary procedures in place makes facing grievances much easier. These policies take some of the emotion out of the situation. Plus, they can help your HR department know what actions to take.

Your HR policy should outline how many warnings/opportunities an employee has to correct their misconduct before the matter escalates. In addition, the time limit for disciplinary actions should be stated.  

Having these procedures in place will alleviate some of the burden from your HR department.  

When to Follow Disciplinary Procedures

There are many examples of when you may need to follow a disciplinary procedure in the UK. Some examples include:

  • Employee misconduct
  • Habitual absence/lateness
  • Failing to complete assigned duties
  • Poor performance
  • Endangering self/others on the job
  • Damaging company assets

In these cases, employers may need to take disciplinary actions to protect their rights. Many companies in the UK use a “strike” system and carry out regular reviews to address any concerns.  

Handling a Grievance Claim

While disciplinary procedures exist to protect employer rights, grievance claims exist to protect employee rights.

An employee can file a grievance if they believe there has been a violation of a specific provision or policy. In addition to outlining disciplinary procedures, your employee handbook should also outline the procedures for filing a grievance.

Grievances must be in written form and explain the employee’s complaint. Some cases when an employee may file a grievance include:  

  • Claims of discrimination or unfair treatment
  • Health and safety concerns
  • Pay and benefit complaints
  • Shift or rotation complaints
  • Misconduct
  • Bullying
  • Working condition complaints
  • Workload grievances

You may be able to handle some employee grievances more informally. Others may require legal representation.

Informal Disciplinary Actions

Depending on the gravity of your circumstance, it may be possible to handle a grievance or disciplinary matter informally. Sometimes a discreet and open conversation is all it takes to resolve a conflict and limit the potential of escalation.

If you choose to handle the situation informally, it is essential to maintain a paper trail. You will want documentation recording any informal agreements, time limit, or resolutions. This will help protect your rights if the matter escalates to the legal scale.

At Helix Law, our team can work with your HR department. We can advise you on whether to handle a matter informally. Our solicitors can also advise on if legal actions need to be taken to protect your rights.

Formal Disciplinary Procedures and Grievances

Formal complaints should be submitted in writing. Filing procedures should be in accordance with your organisation’s written grievance procedure or disciplinary code.

All organisations must have disciplinary procedures in their employee handbook. Your HR department should be familiar with these guidelines. Having these procedures in place will limit liability. In addition, it will support your HR department in the decision process.

At Helix Law, we can help your team develop legally binding written disciplinary procedures and grievance policies if your organisation doesn’t already have one.


Upon receiving a formal complaint, the employer should begin an investigation into the case. You should notify any involved members of staff about the investigation. Employers should also give the staff an opportunity to provide relevant evidence.

Depending on the specific circumstances, the investigation procedures will vary. Ultimately, however, it should establish the facts of the grievance or misconduct. This clarifies the appropriate disciplinary actions that will be necessary.

Document every step of your investigation process to protect your organisation. It will limit liability and support your final decision.  

Disciplinary Review/Grievance Meeting

Once the investigation is complete, you should hold a disciplinary review/grievance meeting. This will address the facts of the case and come to a resolution. This meeting should be in accordance with the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. According to Acas, employees have the statutory right to be accompanied during their meeting.

The management team or chairperson will consider the facts of the case. It will decide whether disciplinary actions, adjustments or compensation are necessary. During this step, there will be a determination of the time limit for the disciplinary actions. Other decisions will also take place for the resolution of the dispute. The employee should be given a short period to appeal the decision.

Helix Law HR Retainer Service

Having to take disciplinary actions or face a grievance claim can be stressful for any employer. Not to mention, it puts your organisation at risk of liability. This is especially if the proper legal procedures aren’t followed.

At Helix Law, we strive to be your ally in any legal procedures. Our HR Retainer plan gives you access to our team of legal experts. We can help at any time disciplinary procedures, grievances, or HR questions arise.

Our lawyers are fully versed in Acas code of practice. We can advise you on the best actions to resolve employer/employee disputes as amicably and professionally as possible.

We can help you every step of the way. Our team can draft your organisation’s disciplinary, grievance, and/or redundancy procedures. If needed, we can help you conduct a legal investigation. For filing your claim in England and Wales, we will be there.

Your employees can be your biggest asset. However, they can also pose the biggest threat to your organisation when HR disputes arise. For this reason, it is essential to have an expert legal team on your side to defend your rights.  

If you’re facing a grievance claim or disciplinary actions, contact Helix Law today. We promise no-obligation advice and can discuss more about our HR Retainer services.

Key Contacts

Fiona Wheeler
0345 314 2044
View Profile
Sam Packwood
0345 314 2044
View Profile

Related Expertise

Employment Law
Learn More
HR Retainer
Learn More
Employment Contract
Learn More
Employment Tribunal Claims
Learn More
Settlement And Compromise Agreements
Learn More
Employment Redundancy
Learn More
Disciplinary Procedures
Learn More
Managing Sick Leave
Learn More

Book A Call Back

People frequently tell us that we’re approachable and offer great advice.

They also tell us most solicitors are hard to get hold of whereas we’re happy to listen. The reason for this is that we value long term relationships and we’re happy to speak with business people, to invest our time in understanding your business and whatever your concerns are. Only at that point can we understand whether we’re the right people to help you.