23 April 2010 #Employment
ACAS provides guidance on disciplinary and grievance procedures, which can be found on their website http://www.acas.org.uk/.
However, what happens when the two procedures run in tandem with each other? Is an employer to conclude one procedure before making a decision on the other?
In the case of Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster) v Marshall and another, two joint pub managers submitted a grievance following a request by their employer to reduce staff working hours. They argued that the reduction in staff hours would mean that they would have to work unacceptable hours themselves. Their grievance was not upheld. However, the managers failed to implement the changes arguing that their grievance appeal needed to be heard first. The employer proceeded with a disciplinary hearing and the managers were dismissed in their absence after refusing to turn up for the meeting.
The EAT looked at whether it was outside the range of reasonable responses for the employer to dismiss the managers before completing its grievance procedure. The EAT held that this was not a case where there had been no grievance hearing at all and only in rare cases will it fall outside the range of reasonable responses. It had therefore not been necessary for the employer to complete the grievance procedure before conducting the disciplinary hearing. The employees were therefore not unfairly dismissed.