Help for small firms

Managing discipline - Investigation to possible dismissal: A guide

Managing discipline - Useful tools: Real-life situation one

An employee responsible for business development comes back from a Friday lunch after too much to drink.

He admits he had something to drink while entertaining company clients. You remind him he said the same thing after an incident three months ago - and that entertaining clients doesn't give him the right to come back to the office the worse for drink.

He already has a final written warning for the first incident.

He is slurring his speech and unable to work. You feel you have no choice but to send him home.

What do you do next?

You check your company rules. They state that being unfit for work because of excess alcohol is gross misconduct for which an employee can be dismissed.

Then, investigate the incident to see if there are grounds for a disciplinary meeting. You find there are.

In writing, you invite the employee to the meeting, set out the alleged problem, give him the findings of the investigation, and remind him he currently has a final written warning and that he could be dismissed.

In the letter, you also tell him of his right to be accompanied by an employee representative.

At the meeting, he admits he had too much to drink, is very apologetic and promises it will never happen again.

However, you again remind him that he said exactly the same after the first incident three months ago. You could have dismissed him for that offence, but gave him a second chance by, instead, giving him a final written warning. That meant that if he was drunk at work again, or committed any other serious breach of conduct, within 12 months you would look to dismiss him.

After the meeting, you tell the employee in another letter that you have decided to dismiss him, but that he has the right to appeal against the decision.

He appeals and you invite him to an appeal meeting.

At the meeting, it becomes clear his grounds for appeal lack substance.

In a further letter, you tell him you are standing by your decision to dismiss him.

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