Every employer will at some time or another have to go through a disciplinary procedure with an employee. Getting this process right is not always easy, and the consequences of not following the correct procedure can be costly and sometime unexpected – as was recently the case with a dental nurse who, a court was told, poisoned her boss’s coffee with mercury used for fillings after she received a disciplinary.
Ravinder Kaur, 35, working at the Shams Moopen Dental Practice in Shefford, Bedfordshire, allegedly spiked Practice Manager Laura Knowles’ drink after she received a disciplinary for leaving a patient in the dental chair as she went on her lunch break. In that case, the prosecution alleges that “Ms Kaur, acting out of spite or revenge, took a capsule or a number of capsules of mercury, and tipped it into a mug and handed the cup of coffee to Ms Knowles to drink.
Whilst this behaviour may sound extreme, we are aware of employees reacting aggressively to disciplinaries: one employee threatened to “go postal”, another said he would drive his car packed full of explosives onto his employer’s premises. A client’s manager suspected an aggrieved employee for vandalising his car, whilst another was sure that a £1million pound deal almost collapsed because of information leaked by a spiteful employee dismissed for gross misconduct.
Whilst such reactions will be few and far between, a more likely consequence is that the aggrieved employee diverts attention away from them and makes allegations of whistle blowing or discrimination and pursues a claim in the Employment Tribunal.
Employers can reduce the risk of adverse consequences by having a well-drafted disciplinary policy in place, which reflects the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures (the “ACAS Code”), and ensuring that this process is followed consistently. Whilst not mandatory, the ACAS Code should be followed by employers. The ACAS Code recommends that employers deal with disciplinary action in the following way:
Our other “top tips” are listed below:
What not to do:
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