Discipline issues are a regular HR topic for us. For example, we have been asked if a new written warning needs to be issued for misconduct even if an existing written warning is in place but for different / unrelated misconduct?
The simple answer is no, you can build upon a previous warning for completely different misconduct. This can go through to dismissal as employers can rely on a current prior warning to support a dismissal for misconduct which would not justify dismissal on its own, even where the two instances of misconduct are not similar. Employment law / case law has established that employers may dismiss fairly for misconduct if this is within the range of reasonable responses.
Key HR points to remember:
- Always follow a fair process;
- When considering disciplinary action, always apply the test of ‘is this a reasonable response’ to the misconduct given the circumstances;
- Ensure consistency in approach to similar misconduct by other employees;
- When writing a letter to confirm disciplinary action, state that any further misconduct of any nature could result in further disciplinary action.
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