Disciplinary training course newsletter – Guidelines regarding disciplinary rules

In today’s challenging times, highly productive and motivated staff are key to business survival. More and more managers are tasked with improving standards of staff performance and behaviour and implementing good work practices. Managers throughout the UK have to cope with many challenges, whether improving poor performance or managing underperformers in the workplace.

We receive many requests from managers who wish to know; ‘how to correct poor performance?‘; ‘how to fire difficult employees?’; ‘how to get rid of poor staff performance?’ or ‘what’s the best way to sack someone?’. These managers clearly have a discipline or performance problem and are seeking an easy way to get rid of poor staff performance but they may lack the skills necessary to ‘turn around the difficult or challenging employee’.

Our one-day ‘Correcting Poor Performance and Disciplinary Procedures Course’ addresses the problem that, in a recent survey showed that 75% of UK managers were unaware of the correct procedures for how to discipline employees effectively. It’s not just about getting rid of difficult staff, the modern manager must know the correct procedures for dealing with under-performing staff and how to conduct a disciplinary meeting effectively.

Many delegates have commented on the effectiveness of the course in giving them tips and techniques for improving staff performance; understanding what is a disciplinary procedure; carrying out a disciplinary meeting and interview effectively.

Ultimately, by using the recognised ACAS procedures for disciplining staff you will not just get rid of poor staff performance, but get the most out of your staff.

Disciplinary rules a – Guidelines

Disciplinary rules set the standards for the organisation. Rules may specify standards of:

  •  punctuality
  •  attendance
  •  performance
  •  appearance
  •  conduct

Rules may be used to set out health and safety standards such as protective clothing or smoking restrictions.

Disciplinary rules (i.e. standards) must be clearly communicated to all employees as soon as practicable, so that every individual understands what is expected from them:

a) they should be written down to ensure that employees know what is required of them to avoid misunderstandings;

b) care should be taken to ensure that they are non-discriminatory and are applied irrespective of sex, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, age, racial or ethnic group or disability;

c) the rules should be readily accessible and managers and supervisors should take all reasonable steps to ensure that employees know and understand them (including a discussion as part of the induction procedure is good practice;

d) an explanation of the rules should be given to all new employees when they join the company;

e) special attention should be given to explaining the rules where work is carried out by:

  •  young people,
  •  those with little experience of the world of work,
  •  by employees whose English language skills may be limited, possibly because of a disability, a learning impairment or where English is not the first language.

f) disciplinary and grievance rules should be reviewed periodically. Where a ruling has fallen into disuse or has not been applied consistently, employees should be informed in advance of any agreed changes or reintroduction.

Setting standards

For any disciplinary action to have a chance of a successful outcome, there are a number of essential ingredients. These are:

a) the organisation has a clear set of standards;

b) the standards have been communicated to all workers;

c) factual evidence is available which indicates that conduct or performance is below the accepted standard;

d) there are clear rules and procedures, which outline to all employees how the issue will be dealt with.

This is a crucial concept. It is virtually impossible to bring about an improvement in someone’s performance or conduct unless these elements are present. Unless a worker is prepared to acknowledge that they were aware of a standard, and there is clear evidence that they are below the standard, a successful conclusion is unlikely.

Communicating standards at recruitment

It is very important to make prospective employees aware of the standards that are expected of them in terms of job performance and general conduct. It is particularly important to make candidates aware of any specific requirements there might be, for example the need to wear a uniform, comply with no smoking rules or to work shifts, weekends or bank holidays. Key issues such as this can even be included in job advertisements.

Stating standards clearly at this stage means that individuals who are not happy with the standards, need not apply. This should be seen in a positive light. Disciplinary problems soon occur where individuals take on a job without fully appreciating the standards required. The earlier that potential workers are acquainted with the standards expected, the less likelihood there is of subsequent problems with performance and conduct.

Whilst it is also good practice to cover these topics during an interview, this should not be relied upon as an acceptable means of setting standards. It would be very difficult to rely on a comment made during a recruitment interview when dealing with a subsequent disciplinary issue. It would be much more effective if standards were followed up in writing by inclusion in, for example, the job offer letter or in a staff handbook that went with the offer. Whatever the organisation’s requirements are, they should be spelt out to an individual before they accept the job.

Communicating standards at induction

Irrespective of the size of the employer, some form of induction process is vital. This helps the settling in process and also makes the employee more productive at an earlier stage. The induction process should also cover what the expectations are for new staff. If your employees are not made aware of the requirements and standards you expect, you are in no position to complain if new workers do not meet them.

An induction programme is the ideal opportunity to ensure that the ground rules are set from the first day. Obviously everything cannot be covered on day one, induction should be dealt with in a structured manner over the first few days and weeks of employment. The essential issues must be addressed first – for example any health or safety requirements. During the second and subsequent weeks, other rules and regulations should be explained.


Employee Name:

Subject Date Employee Initials
(as understood)
Sick pay scheme 3 Feb
Training 4 Feb
Pay day/pay slip 28 Jan
Holiday Scheme
Disciplinary policy 29 Jan
Etc (your own Induction Stages)