Shorter Reads

Grievances and Disciplinary Meetings during Lockdown – Proceed or Postpone?

Employers have had to respond to the unique challenges faced by the Covid-19 pandemic, adjusting to the current lockdown by making most employees work remotely from home. This poses potential challenges in running disciplinary, performance and grievance procedures with the workforce. It is important to keep in mind that where possible the usual standards will apply.

1 minute read

Published 28 April 2020

Authors

Share

Key information

  • Specialisms
  • Business
  • Services
  • Employment law for employers
  • Employment law for employees

Employers have had to respond to the unique challenges faced by the Covid-19 pandemic, adjusting to the current lockdown by making most employees work remotely from home. This poses potential challenges in running disciplinary, performance and grievance procedures with the workforce. It is important to keep in mind that where possible the usual standards will apply.

  • Employers have a duty to maintain trust and confidence between themselves and their employees, and not to behave in a way in which (without reasonable and proper cause) would destroy this relationship.
  • Employers have health and safety obligations towards their employees.
  • Leaving a disciplinary, performance or grievance process that has already started hanging without informing all those involved of the intentions could amount to a breach of one or both of the above.
  • A failure to investigate and deal with a grievance raised by an employee could amount to a breach of contract depending on the wording of the procedure.
  • If an employer decides to delay a grievance, disciplinary or PIP matter then they must ensure that alternative measures are put it place to prevent any escalation. For example, if there was an issue between an employee and their line manager then it might still be possible to appoint a different interim manager during the lockdown if appropriate. However, if action is not taken then the reason for any delay should be explained to the employee.
  • Whilst an employer would probably prefer to avoid launching a disciplinary process during the lockdown it may prove necessary if there is suspected misconduct whilst an employee is working from home.
  • Employees have the right to be accompanied at disciplinary and grievance hearings. Whilst remote working makes physical face-to-face meetings unlikely, there is no reason why a grievance or disciplinary procedure could not be handled remotely with attendees joining via Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype Business or other such software.
  • It may be unwise to start a performance improvement plan (“PIP”) whilst lockdown is in force particularly if childcare is needed whilst the schools are closed or if physical or mental health issues are impacting on performance. If a PIP began prior to lockdown, then there is the question of whether to continue it, and if so, how to monitor performance remotely and conduct the process going forward.
  • It is also important to take minutes or notes at meetings conducted remotely and to circulate them in the same way as would have happened whilst operating in the office.

If you have any queries about your specific circumstances, our specialist Employment team are here to help.

Message us on WhatsApp

Related latest updates
PREV NEXT

Related content

Arrow Back to Insights

Shorter Reads

Grievances and Disciplinary Meetings during Lockdown – Proceed or Postpone?

Employers have had to respond to the unique challenges faced by the Covid-19 pandemic, adjusting to the current lockdown by making most employees work remotely from home. This poses potential challenges in running disciplinary, performance and grievance procedures with the workforce. It is important to keep in mind that where possible the usual standards will apply.

Published 28 April 2020

Associated sectors / services

Authors

Employers have had to respond to the unique challenges faced by the Covid-19 pandemic, adjusting to the current lockdown by making most employees work remotely from home. This poses potential challenges in running disciplinary, performance and grievance procedures with the workforce. It is important to keep in mind that where possible the usual standards will apply.

  • Employers have a duty to maintain trust and confidence between themselves and their employees, and not to behave in a way in which (without reasonable and proper cause) would destroy this relationship.
  • Employers have health and safety obligations towards their employees.
  • Leaving a disciplinary, performance or grievance process that has already started hanging without informing all those involved of the intentions could amount to a breach of one or both of the above.
  • A failure to investigate and deal with a grievance raised by an employee could amount to a breach of contract depending on the wording of the procedure.
  • If an employer decides to delay a grievance, disciplinary or PIP matter then they must ensure that alternative measures are put it place to prevent any escalation. For example, if there was an issue between an employee and their line manager then it might still be possible to appoint a different interim manager during the lockdown if appropriate. However, if action is not taken then the reason for any delay should be explained to the employee.
  • Whilst an employer would probably prefer to avoid launching a disciplinary process during the lockdown it may prove necessary if there is suspected misconduct whilst an employee is working from home.
  • Employees have the right to be accompanied at disciplinary and grievance hearings. Whilst remote working makes physical face-to-face meetings unlikely, there is no reason why a grievance or disciplinary procedure could not be handled remotely with attendees joining via Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype Business or other such software.
  • It may be unwise to start a performance improvement plan (“PIP”) whilst lockdown is in force particularly if childcare is needed whilst the schools are closed or if physical or mental health issues are impacting on performance. If a PIP began prior to lockdown, then there is the question of whether to continue it, and if so, how to monitor performance remotely and conduct the process going forward.
  • It is also important to take minutes or notes at meetings conducted remotely and to circulate them in the same way as would have happened whilst operating in the office.

If you have any queries about your specific circumstances, our specialist Employment team are here to help.

Associated sectors / services

Authors

Need some more information? Make an enquiry below.

    Subscribe

    Please add your details and your areas of interest below

    Specialist sectors:

    Legal services:

    Other information:

    Jurisdictions of interest to you (other than UK):

    Article contributor

    Enjoy reading our articles? why not subscribe to notifications so you’ll never miss one?

    Subscribe to our articles

    Message us on WhatsApp

    Please note that Collyer Bristow provides this service during office hours for general information and enquiries only and that no legal or other professional advice will be provided over the WhatsApp platform. Please also note that if you choose to use this platform your personal data is likely to be processed outside the UK and EEA, including in the US. Appropriate legal or other professional opinion should be taken before taking or omitting to take any action in respect of any specific problem. Collyer Bristow LLP accepts no liability for any loss or damage which may arise from reliance on information provided. All information will be deleted immediately upon completion of a conversation.

    I accept Close

    Close
    Scroll up
    ExpandNeed some help?Toggle

    Get in touch

    Get in touch using our form below.