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What is ACAS Code of Practice?

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) is a well esteemed departmental public figure of the Government of United Kingdom, primarily focusing on the improvement of organizational working life and structure through promotion and facilitating robust industrial relation practices particularly with regard to dispute resolution. The ACAS statutory code of practice on discipline and grievance procedure was give out under section 199 of the Trade Union and Labor Relations (Consolidation) Act, 1992. Basically this code provides vital guidelines for employment committees to follow and imply a well set disciplinary and grievance procedure in the organization benefitting the employees and the corporates as well.

ACAS code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedure

Though this is not a prescribed regulation, yet the employment institutions are liable to follow the set rules and directives. These are primarily advised in the Code of Practice, when facing such tribunal claim. Well defined and clear parameters are set by ACAS Code of Practice for both the employees and employers to handle and settle down such issues in the workplace. It is then the sole responsibility of the hearing panel to make the employee and employer to follow the guidelines of the code when dealing with these issues referencing the parameters set by the code for the best practice.

Need of ACAS

Since there is no formal regulation describing the ACAS code of practice, however many phases of Employment Right Act have been provided as an advisory framing the guidelines for the ethical professional conduct following the disciplinary procedure to handle the raised issues in the corporate. Hence the need of this code is certainly support the smooth functioning of the business institutions under the shade of country legislature. The elementary requirement of ACAS code can be described as:

  • The employment courts are bound to refer the guidelines advised by the Code of Practice and consider the business claims to be resolved in spite of being uncovered by formal legislation.
  • The ACAS is a set of advisory directives, convincing the employment tribunals to refer and follow the guidelines, ensuring the smooth, ethical and reliable procedure for disciplinary and grievances.
  • Failing of the tribunals to sustain the set parameters and standards of the code may further impose to rectify the final verdict or may also result to pay the compensation instead.

General Guidelines

Basically, Disciplinary situations comprised of misconduct or dissatisfactory performance, whereas grievances are the issues, complains or concerns which are raised by the employees against the employers. Hence the basic guidelines for the disciplinary procedures and grievance procedures are included in the Code of Practice, suggested to be followed by the employees and employers both:

  1. Disciplinary Procedures:
    1. Establishment and collection of the facts of each case should be the very first step to be taken. It is important to carry out essential investigation of potential issues. Collation of all the relevant evidences and supporting documents formulates the correct and practicable disciplinary action. This is too considered by the employer that during the meeting, any disciplinary action should not be taken on the basis of collected evidences.
    2. Inform the employee about the issue and call them for a disciplinary trial; the employee should be notified in writing about the disciplinary case in before. The copy of written evidences or the witness statements (if any) should be enclosed with the notice call. The statement should also comprise of the details of the ongoing conducted meeting.
    3. Hold the hearing and set the meeting with the employee to discuss the problem; explaining the complaint by the employer detailing all the incurred issues. The employee should also be given a fair chance to debate the statements, cross questioned the witnesses or present the evidences.
    4. Allow the employee to be accompanied at the meeting; any colleague should be allowed to attend the meeting with the employee as a support hand or as a witness against the imposed claim. For this, the employee should mark a reasonable request beforehand.
    5. Adopt a suitable action; if the employee has found flawed in his performance deflating the organization or inclined to misconduct or failed to present sufficient supporting evidences.
    6. Inform the employee about the taken decision; a decision of dismissal with or without notice can be implied by the authority manager in case of theft or fraud, physical violence or serious disobedience. Else, a final warning could also be stated by the authority in minor culpability.
    7. Allow the employee an opportunity to appeal against the panel decision; if the employee feels the verdict wrong and unfair. The employers must be noticed the basis of the written appeal. Employee must be informed in writing about his/her appeal consideration.
  2. Grievance Procedure
    • First the employee should make the employer aware about the grievance faced in a written format,
    • The hearing for received grievance should be then conducted to discuss the complaint;
    • Allow the employee the statutory right to be accompanied; the employee here too permitted with the fellow companion in the meeting so as to present as a witness or just for moral support,
    • The decision must be conveyed to the employee without any unreasonable delay in a formal written format. Mentioning all the details about the issues and points raised along with the panel verdict, the employee too informed about the possibility to appeal against the decision.
    • In case of unsatisfactory decision against the claimed grievance, the employee could appeal against it. A prior written request should be submitted for this describing the basics and core reasons of the appeal.

Ethical Approaches

If the grievance has been raised by the employee during the disciplinary hearing process, then the grievance procedure should be dealt first instead of the disciplinary action. If both are correlated then the hearing can be conducted concurrently to get an appropriate verdict.

Also the provision of this Code never applies to the grievances raised by a single representative for two or more employees. Such grievances should be handled with the organization’s mutual grievance practice accordingly. However the ACAS Code of Practice is proposed to standard of reasonable behavior almost in all matters raised, hence must be handled and so opted carefully by the employees and the employers both.

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