How to Write a Disciplinary Letter

Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis

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08 May 2019

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As a business, you rely on your employees to do their part for the good of your organisation.

But if they break your rules, it can result in disciplinary action.

This piece explores the process of writing such a letter while keeping the standard code of practice in mind.

Dealing with misconduct

A disciplinary letter is a message to a member of staff regarding issues surrounding their performance or conduct in the workplace.

The letter serves as an invitation or notice of an upcoming disciplinary hearing meeting. It should include the date, time and location for the hearing.

The disciplinary hearing letter should have details of the allegations against the employee, documentation supporting the incident and the possible outcomes of the procedure.

Although Acas disciplinary letter templates provide some guidance for employers, it might be a good idea to take the time to create one specifically for your company.

If you require any action after the initial meeting, you must also send a disciplinary action letter to the employee.

The main part to include in this email is a summary of what was discussed in the first disciplinary meeting as well as the required action from this letter.

 

Why write a disciplinary letter?

The purpose is to inform staff of a breach or potential break of company policy or code of practice.

To avoid discrimination claims, the letter must include details of the employee's entitlements during the procedure such as their right to have a trade union representative or a colleague present —as well as the expected process.

It’s important this process is fair and consistent amongst all staff members to prevent allegations of inequality.

These documents may later serve as proof when sending out a disciplinary action letter for insubordination, misconduct, lateness, performance, etc.

 

Disciplinary letter template

To reduce some of the concerns associated with this process, we’ve provided a sample letter of disciplinary action that could serve as a guide for creating one specific to your business.

While there’s no standard format for writing this letter, it should always include some core elements. These are:

  • Details and procedure of a disciplinary hearing.
  • Documents and other supporting evidence.
  • A list of people who’ll attend the hearing.
  • The employee’s right to having someone present.

There’re a number of sources online that offer various disciplinary letter templates. Depending on the reason for the hearing, you could adapt this letter to serve as a:

  • Sample disciplinary action letter for gross misconduct: This is for behaviour considered to be potentially damaging to the relationship between yourself and the employee.
  • Sample disciplinary action letter for insubordination: It applies when a member of staff deliberately disobeys an order from their manager. Remember, an employee refusing to perform a task that’s illegal or unethical isn’t considered insubordinate.
  • Sample disciplinary letter for unprofessional behaviour: This is any behaviour that affects the normal flow of the work environment. It could be anything from bullying and harassment to persistent lateness and passive-aggressive behaviour.
  • Sample disciplinary letter for absence: Like the name suggests this comes in handy when employees are persistently late without a valuable excuse.

There’re a variety of sources online that offer different versions of a disciplinary letter. While they may all differ slightly, the core message remains the same.

Download a free template, here:

 

 

Although you aren’t required to follow the Acas code of practice, you must follow the rules and regulations for dismissing an employee as this is the best way to avoid claims of unfair dismissals.

While following the Acas standard code of practice may not be a legal requirement, employers that don’t may open themselves up to extra costs.

If you didn’t follow the code and went on to lose an employment tribunal claim, the employee could receive up to 25% more at an employment tribunal than they would if you did follow the code.

Expert support

Contact Croner for more information and advice on disciplinary procedures and employment contracts. Call us on 0808 145 3380.

About the Author

Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis is the senior manager of the Litigation and Employment Department and assumes additional responsibility for managing Croner’s office based telephone HR advisory teams, who specialise in Employment law, HR and Commercial Legal advice for large organisations across the United Kingdom.

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