All organisations, however small, must have in place a disciplinary procedure for employees.
In small charities, the disciplinary procedure usually outlines how the charity will manage issues with both an employee’s conduct and performance.
I have worked with many small charities and social enterprises where the disciplinary procedure has not been fit for purpose, is not able to deal with disciplinary issues effectively or the procedure does not reflect the small size of the organisation.
Some of the common issues are:
- There are too many formal stages in the disciplinary procedure. Ideally there should only be three stages (excluding the right of appeal for any disciplinary sanction) for a small charity.
- It is not made clear how many opportunities an employee has in the formal process to rectify a conduct issue or to show improvement in work performance before dismissal becomes a possibility.
- The procedure is contractual which means if the disciplinary procedure is not followed to the letter then the charity runs the risk of being in breach of contract – not ideal!
- Too much practical guidance is in the procedure. Guidance on how the formal process will work in practice should sit alongside the formal procedure and not be incorporated into it.
I have worked with a number of small charities to resolve these issues in their disciplinary procedures to ensure that the charity has a formal procedure which reflects the ACAS Code of Practice, and works in practice to manage employee’s conduct and performance in a clear, consistent and fair way.