Employee misconduct is so nuanced that even seasoned managers and HR professionals may sometimes question what action to take.
Whether you feel completely out of your depth or just want the reassurance of a second opinion, seeking expert support can help you to investigate the problem, determine the severity of the offence, and reach a fair outcome decision after careful consideration of the facts.
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How we help
Restore business harmony
From persistent lateness and social media misuse to complex fraud and allegations of sexual harassment, our HR and Employment Law specialists can provide much-needed support and expertise through difficult disciplinary matters.
Fair, commercial, pragmatic. We’ll find out what you want to do, help you explore options and risks, and work with you to manage misconduct quickly, effectively and in line with the law.
- Approach situations confidently with advice from named Employment Law experts
- Ensure matters are dealt with fairly and consistently with a robust disciplinary policy
- Save time with bespoke document drafting and expert-created templates
- Not confident or time-poor? Let us conduct the investigation, hearing and appeal for you
- Protect against claims with our optional, FCA-regulated Legal Expenses Insurance
Reduce business exposure, resolve issues quickly
Disciplinary matters are the most common case type we deal with and come with a high potential for claims. Have you followed the correct procedure? Is the sanction fair and reasonable in the circumstances? Is there whistleblowing involved, or perhaps a protected characteristic?
Don’t let disciplinaries drain management time or leave the door open to claims. In addition to unlimited advice line support throughout the process, your dedicated team of legally-qualified advisers will take care of all your documentation, from drafting meeting invites to turning your minutes into a clear, comprehensive outcome letter. Complete peace of mind in stressful situations
"It’s so reassuring to know that I can speak to the same person each time I have a query. We have built a strong mutual understanding over the years."
Grand Prix Express Limited
Common disciplinary queries and questions about our service, answered by our Employment Law and HR specialists.
How can you assist with documentation?
Your dedicated EW team will utilise their Employment Law expertise and in-depth understanding of your business to help you to craft any correspondence you might need throughout the disciplinary process. We’ll ensure that meeting invites contain all the necessary information, help you to construct carefully-worded outcome letters explaining how you have arrived at your decision and why this warrants a particular course of action, and everything in between
Can you offer on-site support with investigations and hearings?
Yes. If you’re not confident tackling the situation alone, we can provide on-site HR Consultancy support with disciplinary investigations, hearings and appeals. We can conduct the meetings for you or, if you prefer, attend them with you to offer professional, experienced support. We can also provide similar assistance with employee grievances.
I want to be able to evidence the steps we have taken.
Through MyEW, you can access a full case history, including attendance notes and correspondence with your adviser. Not only will this help you to demonstrate that you followed a fair procedure, but you can also refer back to written advice and call recordings at a later date should you encounter a similar scenario or need to demonstrate compliance.
Will you stop us from taking action against employees, even when we feel we need to?
Some providers’ self-insurance models can result in overly restrictive advice. At Ellis Whittam, our Legal Expenses Insurance is independent, and our advice is genuinely commercial; we will help you to achieve your preferred outcome whilst being mindful of potential legal risks. Dismissing an employee during their probationary period, for example, is fairly low-risk, and provided this wouldn’t constitute automatically unfair dismissal, we won’t prevent you from making these basic employment decisions.
What is formal disciplinary action?
Formal disciplinary action is any sanction that follows a formal disciplinary meeting. It could be a first written warning, a final written warning or dismissal. A sanction should only be issued following a formal disciplinary process, which will usually involve an investigation, an invite to a meeting, the meeting itself, then a letter confirming the outcome.
Can employees resign during a disciplinary?
Yes. Employees resigning during the disciplinary process is a fairly common tactic adopted by someone facing serious allegations. Resignation is a unilateral act, and employers cannot choose to accept or reject the resignation. If someone resigns with immediate effect, their employment ends straightaway. If they resign with notice, then it may be that you can conclude the disciplinary process before the notice period ends.
What are the steps in the disciplinary process?
Generally speaking, it is investigation, meeting, outcome, appeal. How long each step takes, and the exact process involved, will often depend on the seriousness or complexity of the allegations.
What is the role of a companion at a disciplinary hearing?
A companion in a disciplinary hearing can take notes and can make representations on behalf of the employee. Beyond that, their role is pretty limited. What they cannot do is answer any questions posed directly to the employee.
Who can employees take into a disciplinary hearing?
A union representative or a work colleague. Employees are not permitted to take friends or family members into a disciplinary hearing unless they are also colleagues and/or union representatives.
Can you sack staff at a disciplinary?
Yes, provided that the letter inviting the employee to the disciplinary hearing makes it clear that is one possible outcome.
Explore other HR advice and support
From setting up a grievance procedure to holding a hearing and managing appeals, we’re here to walk you through the process so that you can resolve issues quickly, compliantly and with minimum disruption to your business.
How long should a grievance investigation take?
That will depend on the subject matter of the grievance or how many allegations are made. There is no legal time limit on how long the investigation should take and the Acas Code of Practice says that an investigation should be completed within a reasonable time frame.
Can I ignore a grievance?
This would not be a good idea. If someone has complained about their treatment at the hands of a colleague or manager, ignoring the problem will not make it go away. In fact, it will probably make things worse. If the complaint is not dealt with properly, it could lead to a resignation and then a constructive dismissal claim or, depending on the subject matter, a claim for discrimination.
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Experts in Employment Law & HR
Why choose us?
At Ellis Whittam, we’re known for our bespoke service and the quality of our support. Not only is our expertise unmatched, but we take the time to know you so that we can function as a true extension of your team.
- Your own small team of dedicated experts
- Commercial, pragmatic advice tailored to you
- Bespoke contracts, policies and handbooks
- Trusted by over 35,000 organisations
- Recognised as a leading firm by the Legal 500
Who you'll be working with
Principal Employment Law Adviser
HR Consultancy Manager
“I’ve taken Ellis Whittam into every organisation that I’ve worked with. I’ve introduced them to many teams and many colleagues and referred them with absolute pleasure because I genuinely trust in the service that we get.”
Debbie Jamieson, People Director
“We get a great deal of comfort and satisfaction knowing that we have support as and when we need it, in a decisive and responsive way.”
Richard Berry, Group HR Director
Bluestone National Park Resort
“What we recognised in Ellis Whittam is the background that they have. They are able to supply knowledge and experience in a number of disciplines, which enables us to develop our business in a way that’s safe, to do it on time and with a quality to it.”
Debbie Rainbow, Director of Human Resources and Health & Safety
“As the company started to get larger, we knew we had to protect our employees and our contractors both onsite and in the offices. Ellis Whittam is exactly what we needed to move the company forward.”
Joanne Beaver, Operations Director
“We have found Ellis Whittam to be responsive and aligned with our business in terms of our processes and expectations. Their pragmatic approach has proven to be a great fit – nobody wants to be fighting their adviser on basic employment decisions.”
Jonathan Green, COO
“Ellis Whittam supports our 280 staff members with Employment Law and Health & Safety and has provided quality management training too.”
Lisa Best, Head of Service Delivery
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