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Why have disciplinary procedures?

In order to operate effectively, organisations need to set standards of performance and conduct that are reinforced by company rules. Rules should be clear, concise and, above all else, fair. They should also be put in writing and made available to all employees.

Disciplinary procedures enable you to ensure that employees keep to the rules. More importantly, they enable you, as an employer, to ensure that all breaches of the rules are dealt with fairly and consistently.

If disciplinary rules and procedures are written correctly and used effectively, not only should the work place be a happier working environment but also, the business owner will minimise the potential of being taken to an Employment Tribunal.

Disciplinary procedures should be seen as an aid to effective management, to be used primarily as a means of modifying people’s behaviour in line with the organisation’s aims – not just as a mechanism for imposing sanctions.

A good procedure will start by trying to resolve most issues of conduct or performance on an informal basis, although some more serious issues will need to be dealt with by more severe means from the start.

The secret, though, having got robust rules and procedures in place, is to engage with the errant employee at an early stage and to always attempt to resolve the issue in a constructive and positive way. Whilst this is not always possible, in the majority of instances a sensible and practical resolution is usually achievable.

It is important to stress, however, that as an employer, you need to deal with situations as they arise. You cannot leave breaches of discipline to go un-actioned for a period of time and then, the next time a person is in breach of the rules, commence the process by pulling in the previous indiscretion.

There is an urban myth that dealing with disciplinary issues is an onerous and lengthy process. This need not be so. The key is to ensure that your process is robust but simple, easily understood but effective; workable but fair and consistent.

By ensuring that both rules and procedure are in place and by adhering to the above principles you should be able to run your business with a peace of mind that gains respect from your employees whilst providing protection for your business.

“There is evidence to suggest that good HR practice and people management in SMEs are key factors in strong business performance and can lead to increased productivity.”

- CIPD people Skills Project 2017


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