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How to decide on an appropriate disciplinary penalty

Author: Eric Gilligan and Wendy Sommerville


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  • Conduct an investigation and hold a disciplinary meeting with the employee before deciding whether or not to impose a disciplinary penalty.
  • Adjourn the disciplinary hearing to consider the evidence before deciding on what disciplinary penalty to impose.
  • Consider which disciplinary penalty would be appropriate, taking into account the nature and seriousness of the misconduct or poor performance.
  • Be aware that a final written warning can be given for a "first offence" if appropriate in the circumstances.
  • Dismiss the employee only if the decision to dismiss would be a reasonable response in the circumstances.
  • Take into account any rules or guidance in the disciplinary policy or employee handbook on what penalty should apply in particular circumstances.
  • Investigate the employee's disciplinary record and take any live warnings into account.
  • Consider what penalties were imposed on other employees in comparable past cases and be consistent when deciding on a penalty, unless the circumstances justify different treatment.
  • Consider any mitigating factors such as a good disciplinary record, health issues or provocation.