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Fast track disciplinary and performance policies

Some organisations are building in a fast-track option into their disciplinary and performance policies to expedite matters and avoid all the formalities.  This is typically being used in cases of more minor misconduct and where the employee fully admits fault, accepts the outcome, and is happy to avoid a full hearing.

Minor misconduct issues (for example timekeeping issues) can be dealt with informally in accordance with the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. However, an informal procedure must not be used where the misconduct, if proven, could result in dismissal. In addition, a formal warning given without following a disciplinary procedure is likely to be in breach of the Acas Code.

ACAS say “An admission is likely to shape the investigation that the employer then follows but may not remove the need for further investigation to be undertaken. For example, an investigation might reveal mitigating circumstances that lessen the level of culpability.”

Accordingly, even where an employee admits guilt, an investigation and hearing is likely to be needed.

Turning to performance issues, an employee must be informed of the problem (see paragraph 9 of the Acas Code) and, except in cases of gross negligence, be given an opportunity to improve.  As such, it will very rarely be appropriate to fast track a performance management procedure. However, it may be possible to instigate a pre-termination negotiation; offering a settlement deal as an alternative to performance management.