Hi, sorry I was offline by the time you had replied earlier. If you have decided to resign, the employer has no choice over whether to accept your resignation or not and as soon as you have submitted it, your notice period automatically starts to run and your employment would legally terminate once the notice period has come to an end. An employer simply has no say on whether a resignation is accepted or not.
However, until your notice period runs out you will still be an employee of the company and subject to their usual rules and procedures. If the employer wants to treat your complaints and resignation as a grievance they could ask you to attend a formal grievance hearing to discuss the matters and it is true that you may only be accompanied by a trade union rep or a colleague. However, if you do not want the employer to treat this as a grievance you can ask the not to, but they can still ask you to provide evidence as part of an investigation into this issue.
In terms of taking disciplinary action against you, in order to justify that such action on grounds of misconduct was fair, the law requires that the employer:
- Conducts a reasonable investigation;
- Follows a fair disciplinary procedure; and
- Shows they had reasonable grounds to believe the employee was guilty.
In addition, the employer is expected to follow the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. Altogether, it means that a disciplinary procedure should be conducted as follows:
1. Investigation - a reasonable investigation is needed. What is reasonable depends entirely on the circumstances and especially the nature and seriousness of the allegations. The more serious these are, the more detailed the investigation needs to be.
2. Disciplinary hearing - if the investigation provides sufficient evidence of misconduct, the employee may be invited to attend a formal disciplinary hearing. They must be given prior notice of the hearing, including details of the allegations, allowing them time to prepare. They have the legal right to be accompanied at the hearing but only by a trade union representative or a colleague.
3. Decision and penalty - following the disciplinary, if the employer holds a genuine belief that the employee was guilty, then they can go ahead and formally sanction them. When deciding on the appropriate penalty, the employer should consider the nature and seriousness of the offence and the employee's disciplinary record. Unless the offence was one of gross misconduct, ACAS recommends that the employee should be issued with a written warning.
In summary, an employer is not expected to prove that the alleged misconduct had definitely occurred. Disciplinary action will be fair if the employer can show that it had conducted a reasonable investigation, followed a fair procedure and held a genuine belief that the employee was guilty. Finally, it must show that the penalty was a reasonable action to take in the circumstances and one that a reasonable employer would have taken.
If there are any doubts about any of the above and there is belief or evidence that the employer has not satisfied these requirements, an appeal can be submitted to the employer immediately after the disciplinary outcome. If the disciplinary results in dismissal then a claim for unfair dismissal can be made in the employment tribunal. There are two requirements to claim: the employee must have at least 2 years' continuous service with the employer and the claim must be made within 3 months of the date of dismissal.
If you are forced to resign instead, the same rights exist, where you an claim within 3 months, but you will instead be claiming for constructive dismissal.