The purpose of this Disciplinary Procedure is to help and encourage all members to achieve and maintain required standards of conduct. The aim is also to ensure that Localgov Digital’s services and activities are maintained and effective while all members are treated fairly and equitably.
This procedure sets out the action that will be taken in response to alleged misconduct.
In appropriate cases of minor misconduct or unacceptable behaviour, the Steering Group should use informal action before formal disciplinary action is taken. This may include setting clear expectations, and monitoring progress over a reasonable time period.
Informal approaches are encouraged in the Acas Code of Practice for Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. A quiet word with a member or asking for support from the Steering Group may be all that is needed.
No disciplinary action will be taken until a case has been thoroughly investigated. When starting an investigation into an allegation of misconduct, there shall be no assumption that disciplinary action will automatically follow.
The procedure may be implemented at any stage if the alleged misconduct or poor performance warrants such action.
Who is authorised to take disciplinary action?
Any member of Localgov Digital may challenge perceived misconduct in another member, and bring it to the attention of their local Peer Group Leader or any member of the Steering Group.
Where an investigation is required and the disciplinary procedure is invoked, the Chair shall appoint a panel of Steering Group members including (where possible) one person from each membership group category. The panel must contain one person from the same membership category as the member accused of misconduct. The panel will appoint one of their number as a temporary Chair for the duration of the investigation and disciplinary procedure.
What is gross misconduct?
Gross misconduct is defined as misconduct serious enough to destroy the membership contract between Localgov Digital and the member which makes further relationship and trust impossible. Gross misconduct is normally restricted to serious offences. The principal reasons for summary revocation of membership could include but are not limited to:
- physical assault by an member on any other person;
- theft, misappropriation or unlawful destruction of property: Localgov Digital’s, members’ or others’;
- the giving or receiving of bribes or unauthorised gifts;
- serious infringement of safety rules or negligence which causes unacceptable loss, damage or injury;
- supplying security access codes to any unauthorised person;
- unauthorised disclosure of information or misuse of trust of a serious nature;
- making malicious or unfounded allegations of a serious nature;
- deliberate falsification of any documents or claims, including time sheets, overtime or expense forms;
- misconduct at work or away from work of such a serious nature as to bring into disrepute either the member’s position or Localgov Digital;
- serious discrimination relating to a protected characteristic (age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation);
- harassment of a serious nature;
- deliberately accessing internet sites containing pornographic, offensive or obscene material;
- persistent alcohol or drug abuse;
- serious or persistent IT misuse:
- providing false information on a membership application form
If informal action fails to achieve the required improvement in performance or behaviour, then this procedure is followed. This procedure applies to all members.
Invitation to a Disciplinary Meeting
Following an investigation the member should, without unavoidable delay, be given a letter detailing the allegation, the possible consequences and inviting them to a disciplinary meeting.
The meeting should ideally be arranged within five to ten working days of the alleged misconduct, allowing reasonable time for the member to prepare their case. At the same time the member will be provided with copies of all documentation and supporting evidence to be presented at the meeting.
The member should receive details about the problem in advance of any formal meeting to give her/him time to read and digest the information. To suddenly produce new information or allegations about an member at a disciplinary meeting is likely to be seen as unreasonable.
It will be unusual for witnesses to give oral evidence at a disciplinary hearing but if witnesses are to be called the member should be notified in advance.
The notification letter should also explain the possible consequences such as evocation of membership.
Where possible, a note-taker, who must be uninvolved in the case, will take down a record of the meeting.
If there are any witnesses, they should not be present throughout the meeting. They should be called in, one by one, to give their evidence and asked to leave once they have done so. The Chair of the panel will open the meeting with an explanation of its purpose and will read aloud the allegations.
The member and her/his representative can ask questions including of any witnesses called.
The Chair will then ask the member if s/he wishes to take the opportunity to respond to the allegations or concerns or if there are any mitigating circumstances to be taken into account. The Chair may question the member and any witnesses called.
The Chair will summarise the main points of the discussion and ask the member if they have anything further to say.
The Chair will then consider the details heard in private. S/he must decide whether the case against the member has been established on the balance of probabilities, i.e. whether misconduct is confirmed.
If this is the case, when they are considering appropriate disciplinary action, s/he should also consider any special, mitigating circumstances, the member’s previous record, how Localgov Digital has dealt with similar cases in the past and whether the proposed action is reasonable in view of all the circumstances.
The Chair shall give the member written confirmation of the decision normally within five working days of the meeting. This will include notifying the member of her/his right of appeal and the procedure to be followed.
If following the disciplinary meeting it is decided to take action, one of the sanctions below may be applied.
Stage 1 – Written Warning
If conduct does not meet acceptable standards the member will normally be given a written warning by his/her supervisor/line manager. S/he will be advised of the reason for the warning, that it is the first stage of the disciplinary procedure and of their right of appeal. A copy of this written warning detailing the complaint; the change in behaviour required; and dates for review will be kept in the member’s personal file but will be disregarded for disciplinary purposes after a specified period.
The member should be informed in writing of any decision on whether disciplinary action is appropriate and how long the penalty will last, the improvement expected, the time period for improvement, and the procedure and time limits for appeal.
If the decision is to be revocation of membership, the member should be notified as quickly as possible, explaining the reasons for the revocation of membership and the date when the membership will end.
Stage 2 – Revocation of membership
If conduct is still unsatisfactory and the member fails to reach the prescribed standards, or if the offence constitutes gross misconduct, revocation of membership will normally result. The member will be provided as soon as reasonably practicable with written reasons for revocation of membership, the date on which his/her membership will terminate and be advised of the right of appeal.
A member may appeal against the decisions of the disciplinary meeting taken under this procedure to the Chair panel, or if the Chair has already been involved in an earlier stage of the procedure, to the Chair of LocalGov Digital.
The member wishing to appeal against a disciplinary decision, must do so in writing within five working days of receiving written notification of the disciplinary action, stating the reasons for the appeal. Any documents submitted in support of the appeal must be attached.
Arrangements for the appeal meeting will be made by the Chair who will ensure that a note-taker is present if possible. The appeal meeting should be held without unavoidable delay. At least two members of the Steering Group will constitute an Appeal Panel and excluding any who made the decision which is the subject of the appeal.
The decision of the Appeal Panel or person hearing the appeal shall be final.