The legal requirement

The essay question states that what is the purpose of discipline in employment, nature and function of disciplinary procedures using the research based on the ACAS code of practice 2009 and what changes has it made comparing the code of 2004 and 2009. This will be discussed in the following essay below. Firstly, before answering the question directly, it would be a good idea to explain the definition of discipline, types of discipline. The definition of discipline according to (Torrington et al, p 600) has defined discipline as a regulation of human activity to produce a controlled performance. In simple terms, I define discipline as organisations rules and regulations which are applied by punishment for those who does not follow the rules or has broke the rules.

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In the UK, employees must receive a written statement as part of the legal requirement. The written statement includes terms and conditions of the job, any disciplinary rules and how to appeal. According to the ACAS 2009 code of conduct paragraph 1, discipline is situations include misconduct/poor performance. If employers have a separate capability procedure they may prefer to address performance issues under this procedure, therefore, the basic principles in this code still have to be followed.

In the ACAS 2004, drawing up disciplinary rules and procedures must involve management, employees and their representatives where it is appropriate (para 52, ACAS 2004), make rules clear and brief and explain the purpose (para 53, ACAS 2004), explain rules and procedures to employees and make sure they have a copy for themselves (para 55, ACAS 2004). Disciplinary procedures should not be viewed as a means of imposing sanctions but as a way of helping and encouraging improvement employees whose conduct or performance of work is unsatisfactory (ACAS 2000, cited Torrington et al pg 600).

Types of disciplines can be categorised into 3 categories. Firstly, according to Torrington et al pg 600-601, managerial discipline where this depends on the leader from the beginning to the end and it is more to an autocratic management style. Secondly, team discipline, perfection of performance derives from the mutual dependence of all and this can be derived from commitment from all members, failure of one will be the downfall for all. Thirdly, self discipline.

Disciplinary rules aims to let employees know the expected standard of conduct and provide managers with necessary authority. From my understanding is that rules are made for employees to adhere for knowing what kind of conduct is expected from the employee. According to natural justice, procedures should reflect the principles of natural justice making a positive contribution to employment relations.

Under the ACAS 2004 para 59, when drawing up and applying procedures employers should always bear in mind the requirements of natural justice. Employees should be given the opportunity of meeting with someone who has not been involved in the matter. They should be informed of the allegations against them together with supporting evidence in advance of the meeting. Employees should be given the chance to challenge the allegations before decisions are reached and should be provided with a right appeal. Natural Justice can be defined as rules and regulations that are with accordance to the UK legal system.

Discipline can be developed in many ways, but here there are two approaches that are commonly used, namely, punitive and corrective approach. According to Fenley (1998), he distinguishes punitive and corrective approaches. Initially, punitive approach is compared with authoritarian basis and resulting arbitrary treatment. This approach is more to autocratic managers. This usually involves harsh and arbitrary trivial offences. The corrective approach aims to foster self discipline. Penalties are applied fairly and consistently and are predictable. Natural justice is an important component in this approach.

There have been changes in the ACAS code 2009 comparing with the ACAS 2004. In this code, according to the code of practice 2009 paragraph 1, it is designed to help employers, employees and their representatives deal with disciplinary and grievance situations in the workplace and this include misconduct/poor performance and the code does not apply to redundancy dismissals or the non renewal of fixed terms contracts on their expiry. Comparisons can be made to clearly identify the differences between the codes of conduct 2000/2004 and 2009. In the code of conduct 2004, this code introduced ‘statutory procedures’ which was compulsory to be followed by employers to avoid auto adverse tribunal rulings.