Agreed by officers  April 2014

The grievance and complaint procedure applies in any situation where a complaint or grievance is raised about any employee or member of the Socialist Health Association and the Association is asked to take action.  The Disciplinary Procedure applies to issues arising in respect of any employee of the Association

Any complainant is normally expected to raise the issue first with the person about whom they wish to complain.

Where reference is made below to the Chair this includes any other person who may be designated by Central Council for these purposes.  If the Chair is personally involved in any matter they must step aside and another elected Officer will take their place as far as this procedure is concerned.

Grievances and complaints

If any person has a grievance or complaint which cannot be resolved informally it should be set out in writing to the Chair who will decide whether it is appropriate to investigate the matter. If so, the Officers will appoint a person, the Adjudicator, to consider the matter. Within 10 working days of receipt, the Adjudicator will invite the complainant to a meeting to discuss the grievance. This period may be extended by agreement of both parties. The complainant may be accompanied. A written record will be kept and copies given to all parties. The Adjudicator may, if appropriate, carry out an investigation into the complaint or grievance and report to the elected Officers.

Following the meeting or investigation the Officers will inform the complainant of their decision and notify them of their right of appeal to a panel if they feel their complaint has not been satisfactorily resolved.  The Chair will arrange a hearing by a panel of members of the Association who have not been involved in the matters concerned.  No other communication concerning the matter should take place. Any employee involved in this procedure is entitled at each stage to be accompanied by a person of their choice.

Except in the case of an allegation of gross misconduct by an employee the disciplinary procedure shall not be invoked until the grievance procedure has been completed

Disciplinary Procedure

Each step of the disciplinary procedure will be recorded and that record will be available for inspection by the person involved and any member.

Disciplinary action may be contemplated in the event of:

  1. Refusal or failure to comply with any decision of the Officers or Central Council
  2. Any actions which are contrary to the stated or implied terms of the contract of employment
  3. Gross misconduct

Minor Allegations

Any minor allegation will be dealt with by the Officers.

Major Allegations

A major allegation or repeated minor allegations will be dealt with initially by the Officers. They will then investigate the issue.  They will consider whether there is a case to answer and may conduct a fact finding hearing. The subject will be notified of this in writing at least 5 working days in advance, and it will only be postponed if there are legitimate reasons for doing so. This meeting can take place in the absence of the subject if they are given notice but fail to attend. This hearing may result in one of the following outcomes:

  • The Officers may decide that there is no case to answer;
  • A genuine disciplinary issue may be identified, but all parties agree that the matter can be resolved without passing on to a formal hearing;
  • A genuine disciplinary issue may be identified that needs to be the subject of a formal disciplinary hearing.

Major allegations include:  negligent performance of duties; repeated poor timekeeping; repeated unjustifiable absence from work; significant disregard of specific duties; dishonesty; bullying.  This list is not exhaustive.

Gross Misconduct

If there is an allegation of gross misconduct the Officers may decide to suspend an employee or Officer if their continued presence would be inappropriate and will report to Central Council.

Examples include:

(i)               Theft or other dishonesty (including falsification of time records or expenses claims)
(ii)              Violence or sexual assault
(iii)             Harassment or bullying
(iv)             Malicious damage to SHA property
(v)              Bringing the Association into disrepute.

This list is not exhaustive.

Suspension may also take place if investigations into an alleged breach of discipline need to be carried out

Suspension

During a period of suspension an employee will receive full pay. During suspension there may be an investigation into the allegation and this may involve an investigatory meeting(s) and consideration of any relevant documents. Suspension is not a punitive measure, but is used where it would be inappropriate owing to the nature of the allegation or the investigation that they should continue their work.

Disciplinary Hearings

If there is a disciplinary hearing the Chair will be informed and a panel will be constituted. The hearing should be conducted as follows:

(i)   The nature of the allegation and any written evidence will be made available in writing at the earliest opportunity and certainly no less than 5 working days before a hearing.
(ii)   Three members of the Association will form a Panel to decide the issues, none of whom have been personally involved in the matter. The Chair of the Panel shall decide on the procedure to be adopted at the hearing with the exception of the matters set out below.
(iii)  The members of the Panel may interview and call witnesses to determine the facts.
(iv)  You may be represented by a person of your choice who may act on your behalf.  You may ask questions of the witnesses called at the hearing.  You may call your own witnesses and make submissions.
(v)  The Panel may ask questions of you and any witnesses.
(vi)  The Panel will make its decision after all representatives and witnesses have withdrawn.
(vii) The Panel shall announce their decision to you and your representative personally or in writing as they may determine.  In any event the decision will be communicated in writing within ten working days of the hearing.

The Disciplinary Panel may take the following disciplinary action:

  1. Verbal warning – a verbal warning will remain current for 12 weeks.
  2. Written warning – A written warning is current for 26 weeks.
  3. Final written warning – a final written warning is current for 52 weeks.
  4. Dismissal with notice – this type of action may only be implemented after a final written warning has been given.
  5. Dismissal without notice – only available in cases of gross misconduct.  A hearing must be convened before this type of action is implemented. For examples of gross misconduct see below.
  6. Recommendation that membership of the Association be terminated.

Written Warnings and Final Written Warnings

These will be handed personally or posted by recorded delivery. A warning runs from the date of delivery and will contain the following:

A summary of the findings of the disciplinary hearing, the evidence and any submissions made;

  1. The nature of the warning, i.e. first or final;
  2. An outline of the further action which may be taken in the event of further misconduct.
  3. A specification of the period for which the warning will remain current and if appropriate the period during which specified improvement is expected.
  4. Details of the method and time for an appeal.

Appeals

Where a member or employee disagrees with a decision taken according to this procedure, they may appeal to a panel of three members of the Central Council, none of whom has been involved with the matter previously which will review the findings and may make further investigations and hold a further hearing. They may make any decision which was open to the first panel.   The appeal panel’s decision is final.

Currency of Warnings

In exceptional circumstances the above periods may be varied by agreement with the appropriate trades union.

If, following a disciplinary hearing, further disciplinary action is deemed necessary during the currency of a recorded warning, then the recorded warning will be taken into account when deciding what further disciplinary action to take.  Any case involving disciplinary issues which arises after the expiry of a warning from the employment record will be determined solely on the issues arising from that subsequent incident.

Criminal Proceedings

Disciplinary action may be taken where a person has been charged or summonsed for a criminal offence which affects or reflects on the performance of their duties.  If a person is acquitted of a criminal charge, disciplinary action may still be taken in the event that the actions involved misconduct which affected their employment.

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