When an employee who is subject to disciplinary proceedings raises a grievance, must the employer put the disciplinary proceedings on hold?
There is no legal requirement for an employer to postpone disciplinary (or capability) proceedings when the employee who is subject to those proceedings raises a grievance. This was confirmed by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in Jinadu v Docklands Buses Ltd EAT/0434/14.
In many circumstances it will be appropriate for the employer to deal with the grievance as part of the disciplinary proceedings, particularly where the two are related (for example, if the employee is complaining about how the employer is handling the disciplinary procedure, or has a grievance that amounts to a defence to the disciplinary allegations).
The employer should allow the employee to set out the grounds for their grievance at a meeting during the disciplinary process, and should investigate and address the grievance concurrently with the disciplinary issue. If necessary, the employer can continue the grievance proceedings after the disciplinary procedure has been concluded, if there are issues that remain outstanding.
If the grievance is unrelated to the disciplinary, it may be more appropriate for the employer to deal with it separately. There will usually be no need for the employer to postpone the disciplinary procedure, unless the substance of the employee's grievance is so serious and credible as to make it unreasonable to continue with the disciplinary process.
Employers should keep in mind the principles of the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures, including that discipline and grievances should be dealt with promptly and without unreasonable delay.