ACAS issues guidance on disciplinary and grievance procedures during COVID-19
It may be seen as being a little late to the party in some respects but ACAS has just issued some additional guidance for employers on how to manage disciplinary and grievance procedures when employees are:
- on furlough
- working from home because of the lockdown restrictions or,
- observing social distancing if they are still in the workplace.
ACAS suggests that as a precursor to starting or continuing grievance or disciplinary procedures, the employer should consider whether (given current restrictions) it can carry out a fair process.
ACAS also suggests that those on furlough who are the subject of disciplinary proceedings, raising a grievance or involved in either of those processes can do so provided that they are doing so voluntarily and in accordance with public health guidance.
The former recommendation probably goes beyond what is required under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) as the CJRS simply provides that the furloughed employee cannot carry out work for the employer or provide services to the employer. It is unlikely that those participating in either of those processes would be considered to be carrying out work or providing services to the employer within the meaning of the CJRS.
The position may be different where the furloughed employee has, as part of their duties, managing or chairing disciplinary or grievance processes.
The guidance also gives some example of how employers might utilise video conferencing to enable investigations to take place.
The guidance is very much leaning towards best practice. It has no statutory force (unlike the Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures) but it is a useful read nevertheless.
Click here to read the official ACAS guidance.
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All information in this update is accurate at the time of writing. It is meant for general information only and is not legal advice.