Over recent weeks there have been a lot of cases reported from the WRC where employers have failed to follow correct and fair procedures in relation to their employees.
Employers need to be aware that even where a dismissal may be justified, they must ensure they follow fair procedures before making the decision to terminate employment or to issue a disciplinary sanction. Employers are required to have in their terms and conditions of employment the procedures which will be followed where termination of employment is taking place and a copy of this must be provided to their employees. However, it is common for employers to have, within their terms and conditions of employment, a full disciplinary procedure which details all the stages of discipline.
Much to our surprise, we have come across employers who have a full disciplinary procedure detailed in their terms and conditions of employment but then fail to follow their own procedures. Again, under the Unfair Dismissals Act, account must be taken of whether an employer has followed their own procedure and, if not, it is highly likely the dismissal will be deemed to be unfair.
Employers should also be aware that procedures do not apply just to termination of employment, but also apply when issuing warnings. Again, employers must ensure they follow a fair procedure when even issuing a warning to an employee. Failure to do so could be fatal where the employer is relying upon previous warnings as a justification for terminating someone's employment, on the basis they have received all the warnings as prescribed by the disciplinary procedure. If previous warnings have not been issued in accordance with fair procedures, then those warnings could be jeopardized with regard to their standing when reaching a decision to terminate employment.
We would recommend any employer who is considering disciplinary action, to ensure they apply the principles of fair procedures and natural justice. In this regard, employers should take note of the code of conduct issued by the WRC in relation to disciplinary procedures.
Before dismissing any employee, or for that matter considering disciplinary action, we would recommend an employer gets the correct advice to ensure the action taken is correct and can be relied upon, if necessary, at some future date,
Should you require any additional information in this regard contact us and we will be happy to give you guidance and support where necessary on (01)8870690.