Acas has published a paper evaluating the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. The research analyses interviews with employers, employee representatives and employees to assess the Code’s use, impact, and the extent to which it is understood. The research concludes that more can still be done to encourage early resolution of disputes and increase employer – especially small employer – awareness of the Code.
In 2009 the statutory dispute resolution procedures were repealed and replaced by the Acas Code of Practice on discipline and grievance. The Code places less emphasis on the mechanics of how to manage disciplinary issues, grievances and dismissals, instead providing greater flexibility for parties to resolve problems at an early stage.
Among other things, the research finds that:
- while there were high levels of awareness and understanding of the Code among HR staff and employee representatives, this was inconsistent, with awareness lowest among employers with less formalised HR functions
- generally, HR staff and line managers considered the Code made tribunals fairer for employers as they could no longer be ‘struck down’ for failing to follow exact and specific processes
- the repeal of the statutory procedures decreased the number of grievances as there was no longer a need to file every potentially relevant grievance in case the claim progressed to a tribunal
- organisations with policies revised in line with the Code reported an increased emphasis on early resolution before using formal procedures
- uncertainty about the legal status of the Code and how tribunals may interpret the Code’s key principles of ‘fair’ and ‘reasonable’ has, for some employers, increased their worry about tribunal claims; and
- some saw the code as ‘weakening’ the employee position by removing the obligation for employers to comply with set processes.
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