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Do I really need to follow the procedures?
This is a question that I get asked on quite a number of occasions and I can understand why people ask me. For any size business to follow a fair and reasonable procedure may take a little time to complete and this can often be seen as a burden. Whereas some employers who are prepared to take a risk may decide to take the chance and not follow their own procedures, this is of course not something I would endorse!
A recent case Harvey v Vista Hotels, shows the importance of following a fair procedure. A head chef had been convicted and jailed following an incident where he attacked, bit and spat blood at a police officer – further information is here. Mr Harvey then went on to claim unfair dismissal because the company did not stick to the correct dismissal procedure, as he was in prison and wasn’t formally notified until nearly six months after his arrest.
The tribunal awarded the chef £11,000 and stated his behaviour was a fair reason for dismissal. However, the company was criticised for the absolute lack of process and not carrying out its own investigation into the incident.
So if you ever decided to try to lessen the burden of following your procedures you may want to have a look at these tips first:
- Even if a case appears to be black and white, don’t forget to follow your procedures fairly and reasonably
- Give an opportunity for the employee to be made aware of the allegations that have been made
- Investigate, investigate and investigate. Keep and open mind when doing this, you may be surprised with your findings, your aim is to find out the facts. Not everything is always as it seems!
- Check your procedure – does it allow an employee to be accompanied by a TU rep or work place colleague in that investigation? If it does then offer this right to the employee
- This may not always be practicable but try to ensure that different employees carry out different stages of the process of the investigation, from any disciplinary hearings to the appeal stage
- Don’t delay the process. In the event that you are required to go to a tribunal, a delay in any process won’t be looked at very favourably
This advice should assist you and you may now think twice before asking ‘if you should really follow your own procedures’.
If you are unsure how to deal with a situation then contact Employer Solutions and we will be only to happy to help with any chef’s that you may come into contact with.
Anita Manfredi of Employer Solutions – QCS Expert Expert HR Contributor
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