The repeal of the dreaded ‘statutory disputes resolution’ procedures will come as a relief to many employers. So many businesses fell foul of the ‘one strike and you are out’ approach of the old regulations. Be careful though, since the new regulations do not apply to disciplinary proceedings commenced on or before 5 April 2009. This means that if, on or before 5 April 2009:
- you have sent a letter to an employee setting out allegations which lead you to consider taking disciplinary or dismissal action; or
- you had a disciplinary meeting with an employee;
then the whole of the process will be covered by the old rules, including the arcane provisions about extensions of time for presenting tribunal claims. So bizarrely, it will be perfectly possible that tribunal claims made late in 2009 or early in 2010 will be covered by the old regulations.
Now might be a good moment to find a way to identify who is already in ‘process’, since in theory, it could be months until they work their way through the disciplinary system. For these cases, the old rules of ‘automatic unfair dismissal’ if the three-step procedure is not followed will still apply, as will the old compensation uplifts for procedural breaches (50%).
Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy. Tel: 08452 303050 Fax: 08452 303060 Website : www.irenicon.co.uk. You can follow Annabel on twitter – http://twitter.com/AnnabelKaye