© Associated Train Crew Union.
ATCU, an accountable and democratic independent Union founded to address the issues affecting all our colleagues and to meet the aspirations of all those working in the rail industry.
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The investigation stage
The employer should carry out the necessary investigations to establish the facts
unreasonable delay. The employer may just collect the evidence or may hold an investigatory
meeting with the employee before going to any disciplinary hearing.
In cases where suspension is necessary, this should be kept as brief as possible
and should not be used as a disciplinary sanction in itself. Suspension must be on
full pay unless the contract of
The disciplinary stage
Following the investigation, the employer should give the employee written notification that there will be a disciplinary hearing. The notification should contain:
Keep the union representative informed at all stages providing any letters or documents received. The disciplinary hearing should be held without unreasonable delay.
At the meeting, the employer should explain the complaint against the employee and go through the evidence which has been gathered. The employee must be allowed to:
By statute section 10 of the Employment Relations Act 1999 where an employee who is required to attend a disciplinary or grievance hearing is entitled to be accompanied by either a work colleague (of his choosing) or a union representative. A union representative for this purpose is as defined in sections 1 and section 119 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. ATCU have members who are union representative as defined by the legislation and is therefore entitled to attend grievance and disciplinary hearings with members of ATCU when requested by those members to do so.
In addition, pursuant to section 10 (2B) of the ERA 1999 “the employer must permit the worker’s companion to- address the hearing in order to do any or all of the following- put the worker’s case: sum up that case; respond on the worker’s behalf to any view expressed at the hearing; confer with the worker during the hearing.
Failure by a company not to permit ATCU members to be accompanied to meetings by
representative of their choice will result in legal action.
Both employer and employee should give advance notice of any witnesses they intend to bring to the hearing. After the meeting, the employer must notify the employee in writing of the outcome and any disciplinary action. If the employee is dismissed, s/he should be given the reasons for dismissal and told of the right to appeal.
The appeal stage
Employees should appeal where they feel the disciplinary action is wrong or unjust and appeals should be heard without unreasonable delay.
The appeal procedure
Appeals should be heard without unreasonable delay. They should be dealt with impartially and wherever possible, by a manager who has not previously been involved in the case.
Employees have the right to be accompanied. Employees should be informed in writing of the outcome as soon as possible.
Ideally the manager who hears the appeal should be more senior than the one who heard the original hearing. But that is not always possible with small organisations.
The employer’s own disciplinary procedure may set out procedure and time-scales. There is no general time-limit within which employees should notify their appeal, but they should not wait too long.
Be careful not to miss any time-limit set out in the employer’s own disciplinary procedure. ACAS says (in its nonstatutory Guide) that 5 working days would usually be appropriate, though sometimes longer is needed.
If the employer unreasonably insists on a shorter time-scale which the employee cannot adhere to, eg 2 working days, the employee should at least give written notification within the 2 days of his/her intention to appeal and say that the grounds will follow shortly.
Grounds of appeal
An appeal can be a full rehearing of all the facts or simply a review of the sanction. This depends on the employee’s grounds of appeal. An employee may appeal on various grounds including:
Different people should carry out the investigation and the disciplinary hearing where that is practicable. There is no legal right to request a union representative though it would be insensitive if the employer refused a companion to sit in the investigation and would be construed as such. If it is your considered opinion during the investigation that it is likely to move towards a discipline these concerns must be raised in the investigation immediately and a request for a suspension until such time a union representative is available.
Wherever possible, appeals should be heard by a manager who has not previously been involved in the case.
Employees also have the right to be accompanied at the appeal and employees should be told of the appeal outcome as soon as possible.