The ACAS Code of Practice 1 applies to issues of alleged misconduct or poor performance in the workplace. It does not apply to dismissals due to redundancy or the non-renewal of fixed–term contracts of employment. Disciplinary procedures do not usually form part of the employee’s contract of employment.
The ACAS Code requires that the employer should carry out a reasonable investigation and should notify the employee in writing of the alleged misconduct or poor performance and the possible consequences which may include dismissal in sufficient detail to enable the employee to respond to the allegations at a disciplinary hearing. It should also confirm that the employee has a right to bring either a fellow worker or a trade union representative to the disciplinary hearing as their companion. The employee must also have the right to appeal any disciplinary action by their employer and they should set out their grounds of appeal in writing and specify the grounds.
When deciding whether an employee has been unfairly dismissed for misconduct or poor performance, an Employment Tribunal will look at whether the employer has followed a fair procedure in accordance with the ACAS Code. Where the employer has unreasonably failed to follow the ACAS Code, the Employment Tribunal may increase the employee's compensation by up to 25%. Where the employee has unreasonably failed to follow the ACAS Code such as by going straight to the Employment Tribunal rather than appealing, the Employment Tribunal may reduce the employee’s compensation by up to 25%.