Introduction to this document

Letter following informal discussion of minor misconduct

In cases of minor misconduct, before you launch into instituting the formal disciplinary procedure, you should try to resolve the issue informally first by discussion with the employee. Use our letter to confirm your meeting discussions.

The Acas Code

The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures provides that many potential disciplinary issues can be resolved informally. In the accompanying Guidance, Acas state that cases of minor misconduct are usually best dealt with informally and that a quiet word is often all that is required to improve an employee’s conduct. The Guidance says that in some cases, additional training, coaching and advice may be what’s needed to help the employee improve. Thus, where you have an informal chat with an employee regarding minor issues with their conduct, issue our Letter Following Informal Discussion of Minor Misconduct afterwards. The Acas Guidance does, however, recognise that there will be situations where matters are more serious or where an informal approach has been tried already but is not working. If informal action does not bring about an improvement, or the misconduct is considered to be too serious to be classed as minor, you should then provide employees with a clear signal of your dissatisfaction by taking formal disciplinary action against them under the terms of your disciplinary procedure.

Informal procedure

To deal informally with a minor misconduct issue, the Acas Guidance recommends you talk to your employee in private, the aims being to discuss the shortcomings in their conduct and to encourage improvement. Acas advise that criticism should be constructive, with the emphasis being on finding ways for the employee to improve and for the improvement to be sustained. You should listen to what the employee has to say about the issue because it may become evident that there isn’t actually a problem if there’s a reasonable explanation. Where improvement is required, ensure the employee understands what needs to be done, how their conduct will be reviewed and over what period. Use our letter to confirm in writing what’s been decided. Finally, keep brief notes of any agreed informal action for reference purposes and carry out progress reviews at regular intervals.

Formal action

Be careful to ensure that any informal action doesn’t inadvertently turn into formal disciplinary action. If, during your discussions, it becomes obvious the issue may be more serious, adjourn the meeting and tell the employee that the matter will be continued under the formal disciplinary procedure.