The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service's (Acas) code of practice for handling disciplinaries and grievances at work was published in November. Business secretary Lord Mandelson has approved it and it is now before Parliament. The code should come into effect on 6 April 2009 and will replace the statutory dispute regulations that were scrapped last year. It retains, in essence, the customary three-step procedure - inform, meet and right of appeal - that should be followed in disciplinary and grievance cases.
Why has Acas produced the new code of practice?
Acas revised the code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures (the revised code) in anticipation of the repeal, proposed in the Employment Bill, of the statutory disciplinary and grievance procedures that are currently in force.
The Employment Bill was proposed to simplify and improve all aspects of employment dispute resolution. Following recent Royal Assent, the Employment Bill is now the Employment Act 2008 (the Act) and the relevant sections of the Act that will repeal the statutory dismissal and disciplinary procedures are expected to come into force in April 2009.
When will the revised code come into force?
Acas issued an initial draft of the revised code in May 2008 for consultation purposes. Following consultation, a second draft was issued, which has been approved by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, but it still needs to be put before Parliament for approval.
Acas intends that the revised code will come into effect on the same day as the relevant parts of the Act, in April 2009. It has confirmed it will also publish, around this time, non-statutory guidance for handling disciplinary and grievance issues in the workplace.
What is the purpose of the revised code?
The purpose will remain the same as before: it will provide guidance on disciplinary and grievance matters in the workplace. However, this will take the form of broad principles rather than the prescriptive guidance required under the current statutory procedures.
The revised code will remain a primary guide for procedural fairness and the extent to which it has been followed in any dismissal situation will be taken into account by an employment tribunal.
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