Labour Research March 2017

Law Queries

Disciplinary and grievance

A. If a member starts a grievance in the middle of a disciplinary process, should the employer stop the disciplinary?

There is no legal requirement to do so, but in many cases it will be appropriate to suspend the disciplinary process. This very much depends on the individual case and how the grievance and disciplinary issues relate to each other.

Depending on the circumstances, possible options include asking the employer to pause the disciplinary process until the grievance is resolved, continuing with both procedures running at the same time, or combining the processes to address all the issues together.

The Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, issued by the Acas employment advisory body, states: “Where an employee raises a grievance during a disciplinary process the disciplinary process may be temporarily suspended in order to deal with the grievance. Where the grievance and disciplinary cases are related it may be appropriate to deal with both issues concurrently.”

Further guidance on when suspension of the disciplinary procedure is appropriate is in Discipline and grievance at work: the Acas guide. 

Often, it may not be possible for the employer to address the disciplinary issue fairly until the grievance is dealt with. However, if the grievance is entirely unrelated to the disciplinary issue, it may be possible to run the two processes side by side.