Ruth Mitchell

Businesses 'scared' to discipline staff

Nearly half of small businesses avoid disciplining their staff for fear of legal action, a report has found. The report, by employment law firm Peninsula, found that 48% of employers feel employment is law weighted towards workers, with almost 90% adding they would be more likely to discipline staff if they were ‘legally confident’.

Nearly four fifths of respondents said they believe that because of an increase in employee rights, it is ‘only a matter of time’ before they are taken to employment tribunal.

However, David Price, head of employee relations at Peninsula, said businesses should not be afraid of using disciplinary and grievance procedures.

He said: “When used properly, they can provide a clear and transparent framework to deal with difficulties, and ensure everybody is dealt with fairly and reasonably. “However, employers must ensure they are compliant with current legislation as there is confusion as to what rights employees have.”

He added that businesses need to ensure they are in line with the terms of their contract for employment, locally agreed procedures and industry agreements.

“All employers need to ensure they issue a statement of main terms in their employment contracts, produce a clearly defined job description, and re-iterate expected standards and behaviours. “They also need to have a well defined disciplinary and grievance policy in line with the statutory code of practice.”

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