Where an employee is given a warning for a particular conduct issue, but then commits a different type of misconduct, can the employer move to the next stage of the disciplinary procedure to address that issue or must it start a separate procedure?

In most cases it will not be necessary for the employer to start a separate disciplinary procedure where an employee has been given a warning for a particular conduct issue (eg lateness) and then commits a different type of misconduct (eg rudeness). Warnings that are still active may be taken into account even where they relate to a different type of misconduct.

Paragraph 19 of the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures states that, where an employee has been given a written warning, "a further act of misconduct" would normally result in a final written warning. It does not stipulate that the misconduct has to be of a similar nature to the previous incident.

It is advisable that employers do not word written warnings too narrowly, as whether or not an employer can move to the next disciplinary stage will depend to a large degree on the wording of the original warning. For example, if the warning is the result of unsatisfactory timekeeping but the warning states that further instances of lateness, or any other type of misconduct, will lead to the next stage in the disciplinary procedure, the employer will not need to start a separate procedure to deal with a different type of misconduct.