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managing disciplinary & grievance processes in your small business

Dealing with a disciplinary or grievance with an employee in your small business? We can help you through that process.

managing a disciplinary or grievance process

what are disciplinary and grievance policies and procedures?

A Disciplinary Policy & Procedure helps small business employers to deal with employee misconduct, which relates to improper behaviour or poor performance at work.

A Grievance Policy & Procedure is a process by which an employee raises an issue or complaint they have at work. An employee may choose to do this by raising it informally at first, then if not satisfied, raise it formally in writing. 

Employers must meet with the individual to understand the issue and then, if appropriate, investigate the complaint.

All businesses (including small businesses) by law need to have documented disciplinary and grievance policies and procedures so that these are clear.

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conducting workplace investigations

A thorough investigation into any alleged employee misconduct or a grievance allegation must be undertaken, unless the situation is irrefutable.

It is crucial that an investigation into an employee is seen to be thorough, fair, and independent, otherwise there is risk of unfair dismissal.

Where possible, the investigating officer should not be the same person who will deal with the matter at a hearing.

Failing to follow procedures correctly can be incredibly costly and damaging for a small business’s reputation, which is why it is so important to hire an expert to ensure you are legally compliant from start to finish.

We can provide impartiality for small businesses that don't have sufficient resources (or expertise) in-house to conduct Workplace Investigations.

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disciplining a member of staff

what's involved in a disciplinary procedure?

A good disciplinary procedure should include:


Investigation – It is crucial to have all the facts and details about the case before taking any further action. Employees usually do not have the right to be accompanied at investigatory hearings (unless as a reasonable adjustment due to a disability).

Communication –The employee is informed in writing that a disciplinary hearing will take place, when and where it will be held, and that they have the right to be accompanied by a work colleague or Trade Union representative. They must be given the investigation report and informed of the possible penalty.

Meetings – Such as an investigation meeting or disciplinary hearing. We can explain the difference and what should happen at each stage.

Conclusion – The disciplinary hearing must come to a fair and reasonable conclusion. The employee must be given a right to appeal.

handling an employee grievance

what are the stages of a grievance procedure?

Upon receiving a grievance letter from an employee, you should take the following steps:

Hold a meeting – Set up a meeting to discuss the grievance that's been raised. This should give all parties involved the opportunity to make their case and discuss how the grievance can be resolved. Keep written records of what is discussed during the grievance procedure and whether an outcome is achieved.

Investigate – If appropriate, you may need to investigate a grievance further before making any final decisions.

Conclude – Once the grievance has been investigated thoroughly, you will need to decide whether you uphold the grievance (in full or in part) and if any action is necessary.  You will also need to agree a timescale with the employee for which you plan to do this. If you find that the grievance is not upheld the employee may decide to appeal. On rare occasions an appeal can lead to mediation, otherwise the grievance could end up being dismissed.

dealing with a disciplinary or facing a grievance with an employee?

get in touch - we can help you


As a small business employer, you will encounter staff with poor performance or who commit minor breaches of your small business’s rules or are guilty of serious breaches. You'll also undoubtedly come up against employees who have issues or complaints they have at work.

All of these people problems need timely and correct handling. We guide and support small businesses in North Wales and North West England, to make sure they are handled correctly.

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disciplinary and grievance appeals

If an employee is dissatisfied with the outcome of a disciplinary or grievance, you should offer them the right of appealIf you do not give an employee an opportunity to appeal, this could go against you if the matter progresses to an employment tribunal.

Your appeals process should be outlined in your disciplinary and grievance policies, but if they're not, you should follow the 'Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures'.

In relation to appeals, the Acas Code states: "The appeal should be dealt with impartially, and, wherever possible, by a manager who has not been previously involved in the case"

If this isn't feasible in your small business, not to worry, we can help with that.

We can chair disciplinary and grievance appeal hearings on your behalf, conducting any further investigations that are necessary to reach the right outcome.

Outsourcing your disciplinary and grievance appeal hearings to an experienced HR consultancy has many benefits - not least by giving your employees the confidence that their appeal will be heard and determined by a completely independent, unbiased, and professional third party. 

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Eleanor James

CEO - Morris Hargreaves McIntyre

“Luke is tenacious in delivering results, and relishes tackling difficult situations to meet a specific goal. Once he has taken on a challenge, he is driven to complete it and complete it fast."

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