How should the employer respond if an employee appeals a disciplinary decision but does not set out the grounds for the appeal?
Most employers will specify in their disciplinary policy that employees must set out the grounds for an appeal. Paragraph 26 of the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures provides that employees should let employers know the grounds for their appeal. Employment tribunals have the power to increase or reduce compensation by up to 25% if either party has unreasonably failed to comply with the code. Therefore, if an employee subsequently brings legal proceedings, for example for unfair dismissal, if the tribunal considers that they have acted unreasonably in failing to specify the grounds for the appeal in writing, it could reduce the level of compensation awarded.
Where an employee fails to set out the grounds for their appeal in writing, the employer should request that the employee provide written grounds and refer them to the decision letter (which should set out the process for appealing), the disciplinary policy and/or the Acas code. The employer should explain that, without written grounds, it will be difficult to identify which issues should be investigated before, or addressed at, an appeal hearing, and that delays to the appeal process are likely if new issues are raised at the hearing. If an employee refuses to provide written grounds, the employer may decide to continue with the appeal process but make clear in writing to the employee that this may limit the scope of the appeal.