Human Resources Division

Disciplinary, Grievances and Appeals

The procedure described below may be reviewed from time to time and any changes will apply to all unestablished staff.

The term “Head of institution” denotes Head of Department, Chairman of a Faculty not organised into Departments and the Head of any other institution.

1 Disciplinary Policy

1.1 The University's aim is to encourage improvement in individual conduct or behaviour where this falls short of required standards. This procedure sets out the action to take when the conduct of a member of the unestablished research and academic-related staff (thereafter referred to as a ‘member’) is unsatisfactory.

In those cases where a member of the unestablished staff is subject to disciplinary action:

  • Every attempt will be made to establish the facts quickly and to investigate the matter fully.
  • Before any disciplinary penalty (except an oral warning) is imposed the member will be advised of the nature of the complaint and be given the opportunity to state his or her case, represented or accompanied by a union representative or colleague.
  • The member will not be dismissed for a first breach of discipline except in the case of gross misconduct, when the penalty will normally be dismissal without notice and without pay in lieu of notice.
  • The member has a right to appeal against any formal disciplinary action, including dismissal, taken against him/her.

1.2 The disciplinary procedure may be initiated for a reason related to the member's conduct.

The separate capability procedure should be initiated for a reason related to to his/her performance or capability for performing work of the kind which the member concerned is employed to do. The term ‘capability’ means capability assessed by reference to skill, aptitude, health, or any other physical or mental quality. Advice should be sought from the HR Division if it is unclear which procedure is appropriate.

1.3 The types of conduct which may lead to disciplinary action being taken according to the procedures detailed in Section 2 include:

  • wilful failure to perform the duties of the post
  • refusing to comply with reasonable requests from the work supervisor
  • incapacity to perform the duties of the post effectively due to alcohol or drug abuse
  • bullying, sexual or racial or disability harassment of any member of the University staff and students
  • misconduct in research
  • breach of duty regarding non-disclosure of confidential information
  • breach of the University or Department safety regulations or rules
  • unsatisfactory timekeeping
  • unauthorised absence from work
  • breach of any other conditions of employment

1.4 For the purpose of any disciplinary procedures under Sections 2 to 4 inclusive below the responsible person in relation to any particular member shall be the principal investigator of the grant supporting the unestablished appointment, or the supervisor of the member's work within the institution where the appointment is held, the Head of Division or Head of Section, or the Head of the Institution, whoever is chiefly concerned with the member's duties.

1.5 Before commencing formal disciplinary action (except in the case of gross or other serious misconduct), the responsible person will where appropriate make efforts to resolve the matter by informal discussion with the member.

2 Disciplinary Procedure

2.1 If it appears to the responsible person that there are grounds for believing that the conduct of a member of staff is or has been unsatisfactory, he or she will carry out a full investigation into the matter.

2.2 Oral Warning

If the responsible person concludes after investigation and hearing the member's case that the member is at fault, he or she may issue an oral warning to the member. The responsible person will specify the reason for the warning, will indicate that it constitutes the first stage of the disciplinary procedure in relation to unestablished staff, and will advise the member that he or she may appeal against the warning by following the procedure laid down in Section 5 for appealing against a disciplinary decision.

2.3 Formal Warning

If the responsible person concludes after investigation that the fault is sufficiently serious to justify formal warning, or after a further offence or fault, he or she will interview the member. The member may bring a union representative or colleague with him or her to the meeting, and the responsible person may request that a representative of the Academic Secretary, or Registrary if the person is employed in a Council institution, be present and/or that another member of staff attends to take notes. After the end of the interview, having considered the evidence, if the responsible person considers that this is the appropriate action he or she will formally warn the member. A letter confirming this decision will be sent to the member as soon as possible (preferably within seven days) specifying the complaint made against the member, where appropriate the improvements required in the member's conduct, where appropriate the period of time within which such improvements are to be made, and confirming that if the member commits a further act of misconduct, the next stage of the procedure may lead to dismissal or some other penalty. The responsible person will advise the member that he or she may appeal against the warning by following the procedure detailed in Section 5, provided that such notice of appeal is received within fourteen days of receipt of the warning letter. A copy of the letter will be sent to the Human Resources Division, for the attention of the Academic Secretary or Registrary, whichever is appropriate, and the member will be asked to sign and return a copy of the letter to acknowledge its receipt.

2.4 Review

The case will be monitored and reviewed by the responsible person at appropriate intervals and within any time limit specified when the warning was issued (see Section 2.3 above).

No further account will be taken of an oral warning or of a formal warning when one year has elapsed after the date of its issue. It may however be taken into account to determine the level of entry into the procedure on a subsequent occasion, depending on the nature of the earlier offence and what length of time has elapsed since the warning was issued. It may also be taken into account in any redundancy selection.

2.5 Further Offence After Formal Warning

If it appears that a member has committed a further offence or if his/her conduct does not improve to the required level after the issue of a formal warning and within any time limit detailed in Section 2.4 above, the responsible person will investigate the matter and interview the member. In these circumstances the procedure will be as detailed in Sections 3.2 to 3.6 below.

3 Procedure in the Case of Alleged Serious Misconduct

3.1 This procedure will be used if it is alleged that the member has committed an act of serious misconduct. Examples of alleged serious misconduct include:

  • gross negligence
  • conviction for an offence which may be deemed to be such as to render the person convicted unfit for the performance of the duties of his or her position, or for employment as a member of the University.
  • conduct of an immoral, scandalous, or disgraceful nature incompatible with the duties of the position or employment
  • misconduct in research (detailed under a separate policy)
  • theft or misappropriation of University property, or the property of any member, employee or visitor to the University
  • forgery
  • threatening or using physical violence against any member or employee of the University or any person legitimately present within the University precincts, or against University property
  • wilful and serious breach of duty regarding non-disclosure of confidential information
  • wilful refusal to carry out the duties of the post or comply with the conditions of the position
  • unreasonable refusal to carry out an instruction
  • being unfit to perform duties as a result of unprescribed drugs or alcohol
  • any other act of serious misconduct

3.2 Suspension

The Head of institution may suspend the member without loss of stipend, and may exclude the member from all University premises or any part thereof, whilst the matter is investigated and pending a final decision. The responsible person will immediately inform the Head of Faculty/Institution and the Academic Secretary or Registrary, whichever is appropriate, of all the relevant facts.

3.3 Investigation

The responsible person will investigate the matter and if he or she is satisfied that the member has committed an alleged act of serious misconduct will invite the member to attend an interview with the Disciplinary Committee to be held, whenever possible within twenty-eight days of the serious misconduct allegation. A member may bring a colleague or a union representative of his or her choice with him or her to the meeting.

3.4 Disciplinary Committee

A disciplinary committee will be convened by the Academic Secretary or Registrary, as appropriate, consisting of two senior officers of the relevant institution, one of whom should be Chairman. An officer from the unified administration will attend the meeting. Witnesses may be called by the Committee, both on behalf of the member and by the responsible person, and may be questioned concerning any relevant evidence.

3.5 Rules of Procedure

The rules of the procedure of the Disciplinary Committee will be as follows:

  • A member may bring a colleague or union representative with him or her to the disciplinary meeting.
  • The member and the responsible person are encouraged to made representations in writing, which wherever possible will be exchanged prior to the disciplinary meeting.
  • A decision will be made by the Disciplinary Committee following an oral hearing from the member and the responsible person. The member and the responsible person will be entitled to make a statement and to address the Disciplinary Committee.
  • The Chairman may set time-limits for each stage of the proceedings, including the meeting itself, to the intent that any disciplinary matter under consideration will be heard and determined as expeditiously as is reasonably practicable.

3.6 Decision

Following the meeting the disciplinary committee will consider the facts of the case. The Chairman will then notify the member of the action to be taken. Appropriate courses of action where the Panel believes that the member has committed an action of serious misconduct, has committed a further offence or has failed to sufficiently improve their conduct after a formal warning, may include the issue of a formal warning, disciplinary transfer or dismissal. A letter confirming this decision will be sent to the member within seven days. The decision will set out the findings of fact on which it is based as well as the determination of the Committee. The Chairman will advise the member that he or she may appeal against the decision by following the procedure detailed in Section 5 below, provided that such notice of appeal is received within fourteen days of the receipt of the warning letter. A copy of the letter will be sent to the Academic Secretary or Registrary, as appropriate, and the member will be asked to sign and return a copy to acknowledge its receipt.

3.7 Dismissal

Where the outcome of disciplinary action is that an officer is dismissed, his or her employment will terminate forthwith. No notice or payment in lieu will be made where dismissal is on grounds of serious misconduct.

4 Grievance Procedure

4.1 Introduction

Every member has a right to raise any grievance relating to matters of employment or appointment affecting the member as an individual, or affecting the member's personal dealings or relationships with other members of the University staff, unless the matter is subject to other agreed procedures.

4.2 If a member has a grievance relating to his or her employment which cannot be resolved by informal discussions with the responsible person, and for which no other procedures are available, then the member may make a written complaint to the Head of the institution where their appointment is held. The Head of the institution will respond if possible within seven days of the receipt of the letter, or date of the meeting if he or she decides to interview the member before responding.

4.3 If the member believes that the matter has not been resolved following receipt of the Head of the institution's response, or if the member's grievance directly concerns the Head of the institution, he or she may seek redress of the grievance by making a complaint in writing to the Chairman of the Faculty Board or Chairman of the relevant Council of the School, whichever is appropriate. If the grievance is against the Head of a General Board or Council institution, the complaint should be made in writing to the Academic Secretary or the Registrary, whichever is appropriate, who will decide how the matter shall be dealt with.

4.4 Formal resolution of the complaint

If it is not possible to achieve an informal resolution of the complaint, the matter shall be referred by the member to the Personnel Committee who may decide to set up a Grievance Committee. The Grievance Committee will consist of three persons. The Chairman of the Committee will invite the aggrieved member, and any person against whom the grievance lies, to submit a written statement to the Committee. The Grievance Committee will meet within fourteen days of receipt of the written statements to hear the grievance, or as soon as is reasonably practicable.

Rules of Procedure

The rules of procedure of the Grievance Committee will be as follows:

  • The grievance will be determined following an oral hearing from the member, and any person against whom the grievance lies.
  • The parties to the grievance will be entitled to be represented or accompanied by a colleague or union representative (see 1.1 above).
  • If, after due consideration the Grievance Committee are of the opinion that the grievance is justified, they will make such proposals for the redress of the grievance as they think fit.
  • The decision of the Grievance Committee will be notified to the aggrieved member and recorded in a document signed by the Chairman. A confirmatory letter will be sent to the aggrieved member within seven days.

5 Appeals Procedure

5.1 Introduction

Should a member wish to appeal against a disciplinary or grievance decision, or against dismissal (for example following disciplinary proceedings or redundancy of the post including ending of a fixed term contract), he/she must appeal in writing within fourteen days of the receipt of the warning letter to the Academic Secretary or Registrary, as appropriate. This notice of appeal should set out the grounds of the appeal and state whether the appeal is in respect of the whole or in respect of any specified part of any finding of fact, decision, or sentence. In the proceedings of the appeal the member will not be entitled, except with leave of the Appeal Committee (see 5.2 below), to rely on any grounds of appeal not specified in the notice of appeal.

5.2 Appeal Committee

The Academic Secretary or Registrary, whichever is appropriate, will appoint an Appeal Committee to hear the appeal, consisting of a Chairman and two University Officers. The officers will not necessarily hold positions in the member's institution. They must have no conflict of interest in the appeal, be unbiased, and have the appropriate qualifications and experience to be able to evaluate the issues under investigation. Where technical issues are involved at least one of the officers will normally have the appropriate qualifications and/or experience. If it has not been possible to find an officer with appropriate qualifications and experience to be a member of the Appeal Committee, the Appeal Committee may call an expert witness to assist it in the evaluation of the issues under investigation. The Chairman may request that another member of staff attends to take notes. The Appeal Committee will meet within fourteen days of its establishment to hear the appeal, or as soon as is reasonably practicable.

5.3 Rules of Procedure

The rules of the procedure of the Appeal Committee will be as follows:

  • A member may bring a colleague or union representative with him or her to the appeal hearing.
  • The appellant and the responsible person are encouraged to made representations in writing, which wherever possible will be exchanged prior to the appeal hearing.
  • The appeal will be determined following an oral hearing from the appellant (the member) and the responsible person. The appellant and the responsible person will be entitled to make a statement and to address the Appeal Committee.
  • The Chairman may set time-limits for each stage of the proceedings, including the Hearing itself, to the intent that any appeal will be heard and determined as expeditiously as is reasonably practicable.
  • Following the hearing of the appeal, the Appeal Committee will consider the facts of the case and may allow or dismiss an appeal, in whole or in part.
  • The decision of the Appeal Committee will be notified to the appellant and recorded in a document signed by the Chairman, giving the reasons for this decision. A confirmatory letter will be sent to the appellant within seven days.
  • A copy of the document and letter will be sent to the Academic Secretary or Registrary, whichever is appropriate, and to the responsible person.
  • The Appeal Committee may decide to vary the above procedure as it deems appropriate.