The details of the disciplinary procedures and the Employment Acts to protect the Employees and Employers are summarised leaving the reader to check via Google further details when necessary.
The very fact that Practice Manager (PMgr) needs to look at these procedures means there has been serious failings on the part of the employee, PMgr and the Surgery Management i.e. Partners. Nipping the problem in the bud is a safe motto to follow.
To enable this, the PMgr should highlight areas which the staff should follow, observe their actions so that if they deviate from good practice they could correct themselves before precipitating the situation. Often irritating issues are unnecessarily blown up due to attitude and perception problems and procedures not strictly adhered to.
I feel in the main, there are no bad employees, only bad management. If this principle were instilled in the PMgr mind, then PMgr would strive to focus on issues relating to staff behaviour at the outset and avoid time consuming and often costly problems to the surgery by having to go through the Disciplinary route.
PMgr being right is not as important as being smart and should minimise staff problems, which usually is a great distraction to all GPs and other staff.
Having procedures written down and distributed to staff at the time of joining the surgery is a crucial step but PMgr responsibility only starts there. PMgr has to be in constant vigil and question whether more could be done to help the staff in areas of training, time keeping etc.
PMgr generally fail in keeping written records and show favouritism which other staff perceives quickly. There are so many rules and regulations, as can be evidenced in ACAS site for various issues that a receptionist may be daunted at the document and may put aside without reading any of it. There is no point in questioning why they did not read or observe.
A good PMgr should understand these human traits and to make them read he should issue a memo listing only 6-8 simple points that generally create problems of conflict i.e.
• Health and safety
• Use, often misuse, of organisation facilities
• Discrimination, bullying and harassment
• Personal appearance
• Gross misconduct’ liable for dismissal,
Whereas GPs have MPS or MDU and Nurses RCN for legal protections, and PMgr can join these organisations for a nominal fee, other staffs do not have any nor could they pay fees to join due to the receptionists low salaries. The only option for them is to contact the local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) for advice should a problem arise. When unfair dismissal arises,
It is usually better for junior staff to move on than what ACAS advices because they can ill afford to carry on without employment and earning and despite all the rules and protection offered few would contemplate lengthy action with the Surgery Partners.
The junior staff should understand, right at the outset, that good behaviour is their only protection in keeping their job.
On issues of discrimination and sexual harassment, staffs has to follow CAB and ACAS advice as these are quite serious and a lot more is at stake than just employment and earnings.
Disciplinary procedure is sometimes the best way for your employer to tell you when something is wrong. It allows them to explain clearly what improvement is needed and should give you an opportunity to put your side of the situation.
Clear and consistent disciplinary procedures are good practice in the workplace. They help to promote fairness and consistency in the treatment of individuals.
A tribunal will consider whether a fair procedure has been followed as evidence to support its decision. The disciplinary procedure should state in writing, the type of disciplinary action and penalties, which can result from unacceptable conduct or performance.
Disciplinary procedures should not be seen primarily for imposing sanctions. They should be seen as a way of helping and encouraging the employee to make improvements to the standards and conduct at work.
It is good practice to attempt to solve the problem in a less formal manner in the first instance. If this approach fails then the more formal disciplinary procedure may be appropriate.
The legal obligations of the employer –
The Employment Rights Act 1996 requires the employer to provide written information to their employees about certain aspects of the disciplinary procedure. More details on Employment Act are given later in the section.
Codes of practice
ACAS are empowered to produce codes of practice on disciplinary rules and procedures. The codes provide employers with practical guidance on how to draw up and effectively operate disciplinary rules and procedures.
ACAS guidelines on what should be included in disciplinary proceedings:
• State the type of action and penalties, which can result from unacceptable contact.
• Have a clear timetable for dealing with disciplinary matters.
• Give full details of the disciplinary offence. Investigate the alleged disciplinary offence before disciplinary action is taken.
• If suspension of the employee, during the investigation, is considered necessary, it should be on full pay and for as short a period as possible.
• Allow employee to be accompanied by colleague or union representative.
• Allow workers to put their case before a decision is made. Unless in the case of gross misconduct, not to dismiss on first offence.
• Provide the worker with the right of appeal. Indicate the type of offence that would be considered gross misconduct.
A typical disciplinary procedure will have the following stages:
1 A formal, oral warning in the case of a minor offence.
2 A written warning for subsequent minor offences or a more serious offence.
3 A final written warning for further misconduct. The warning should make it clear that dismissal may follow failure to comply.
4 Dismissal with appropriate notice will follow if there is insufficient improvement.
Conduct, which is sufficiently serious that it requires disciplinary action. In order to warrant dismissal, misconduct must be extremely serious, or repeated on more than one occasion. Misconduct can include persistent lateness, unauthorised absence and failure to meet known work standards.
This is the term used for serious misconduct, which may lead to instant dismissal (that is, summary dismissal). Acts that constitute gross misconduct are those resulting in a serious breach of contractual terms and will be for the organisation to decide in the light of their own particular circumstances. They might include the following:
• Theft, fraud or deliberate falsification of records.
• Physical violence.
• Serious bullying or harassment.
• Serious insubordination.
• Serious incapability brought about by alcohol or illegal drugs.
Employers should give their employee plenty of examples of what they consider to be gross misconduct to ensure that they understand the type of behaviour they consider unacceptable.
In the case of gross misconduct employers should suspend workers (on full pay) and carry out an investigation.
Some details are listed below for the reader to know about the Act and read more about it by searching via Google. These should cover not only the Acts but also their impact assessments, when relevant.
• Employment Act 2008
• Employment Law Changes 2010, 2011 and 2012.
• Employment Bill impact assessment: part 2 – dispute resolution review.
• Employment Bill. Impact assessment: national minimum wage enforcement.
• Employment Bill. Impact assessment: cadet force adult volunteers.
• Employment Bill. Impact assessment: amendment to trade union law.
• Employment Bill. Impact assessment: employment agency standards enforcement.
• Employment Bill: impact assessments.
The Employment Act 2008 is comprised of 23 sections and the main provisions are as follows:
Sections 1-7 – changes to the law relating to dispute resolution in the workplace.
Sections 8-12 – changes to the enforcement of the national minimum wage (NMW).
Section 13 – clarifies that Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAVs) do not qualify for the NMW.
Section 14 – broadens the type of expenses that can be reimbursed to voluntary workers without triggering eligibility for the NMW.
Sections 15-17 – make the following amendments to the employment agency standards enforcement regime.
Top 10 employment law changes in 2010:
1 Increase in the Default Retirement Age
The current Default Retirement Age (DRA) stands at 65.
2 Equality Act
The Equality Act will become law in October. The Act introduces ground breaking new laws which will help narrow the gap between rich and poor; require businesses to report on gender pay; allow businesses to positively discriminate in recruiting and promoting people from under-represented minority groups (as long as they are as well qualified for the job as the other candidates); and significantly strengthen and harmonise UK anti-discrimination law.
3 Equal rights for agency workers
The right to the same pay, holidays and basic conditions of employment as permanent staff doing the same kind of work after serving a twelve-week service qualification period.
4 Additional paternity Leave
Additional paternity leave will be introduced in April 2010, but it will only apply to parents of babies born on or after 3 April 2011. Currently, employed fathers are entitled to two weeks paid paternity leave and mothers to 52 weeks maternity leave (of which up to 39 weeks are paid). Under the new law, mothers would be able to transfer the final 26 weeks of their maternity leave to the father once the mother has returned to work.
5 Statutory payments (for current figures, please check web sites)
In April, the weekly earnings threshold for statutory adoption, maternity, paternity, and sick pay will increase from £95 to £97. And statutory adoption, maternity, and paternity pay and maternity allowance will increase from £123.06 per week to £124.88 per week. (NB. the rate of statutory sick pay will remain at £79.15 per week.)
6 Fit notes replace sick notes
7 Union rights
8 Unfair dismissal
9 Independent Safeguarding Authority
Starting November 2010, new workers and those moving jobs, who want to work with children or vulnerable adults must register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority – Time to train initiative – please check in Google and read about it.