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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50178
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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Today my partner was given a final written warning for a mistake

Customer Question

Today my partner was given a final written warning for a mistake he was supposed to have made months ago. He was not told of the mistake at the time, but they are saying it cost them £3000. He has never had a warning before and was unaware of any problems. He has worked for the company for over 14 years as a graphic designer. The company has recently been taken over and the new employers are advertising for new employees with different skills to my partner. They have given him no evidence of the alleged mistake. Can they just sack him?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Did they take him through a formal disciplinary hearing?

JACUSTOMER-dzkpi4g4- : No
JACUSTOMER-dzkpi4g4- : Hello... Not sure what is happening here? Nobody has answered the question I asked.
JACUSTOMER-dzkpi4g4- : Sorry .. I have just pressed 'help' and realise I am being impatient. Sorry again.
Ben Jones :

I am still here. Did the employer say why there was a delay in issuing the warning from when the incident occurred?

JACUSTOMER-dzkpi4g4- : No. They couldn't tell him when it happened or what happened , just that it cost them £3000
Ben Jones :

The employer has certainly not followed a fair procedure. This is a disciplinary matter and a final warning is a serious outcome that could affect his employment in the long run and the employer is expected to follow the ACAS Code of Conduct. You can find a copy of it here:

In order to justify that disciplinary 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.

I will discuss these requirements in more detail below:

1. Investigation - a reasonable investigation is needed. What is reasonable depends entirely on the circumstances and what resources are available to the employer. An employer is only expected to go as far as is reasonably practicable in the circumstances and they would not be expected to conduct a forensically detailed investigation.

2. Disciplinary hearing - if the investigation provides evidence that misconduct may have occurred, the employee should be invited to attend a formal disciplinary hearing. They must be given prior notice of the hearing, including details of the allegations and any evidence to be used against them. They have the statutory right to be accompanied at the hearing but only by a trade union representative or a colleague. At the hearing the employee must be given the opportunity to defend the allegations.

3. Decision - if, as a result of the investigation and the disciplinary hearing, the employer holds a genuine belief that the employee was guilty, then they can go ahead and formally sanction the employee. When deciding on the appropriate penalty, the employer should consider the employee's length of service and disciplinary record. Therefore, longer service and a clean disciplinary record should result in the employer giving more thought into deciding what action to take.

4. Penalty - unless the offence was one of gross misconduct (something so serious that it justifies instant dismissal), the ACAS Code of Practice recommends that the employee should be issued with a warning. If any further misconduct occurs in the future, only then should dismissal be considered.

As you can probably see the employer has not really followed any of the above and that would make their actions unfair. Your husband is able to appeal the warning immediately and even raise a grievance arguing that no fair procedure has been followed.

Ben Jones :

Has this answered your query?

Ben Jones :

I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating - your question will not close and I can continue providing further advice if necessary. Thank you