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Contract confusion after disciplinary appeal

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Hi, I recently received a written warning and appealed on the grounds that the company procedure was not adhered to. However the decision was upheld.

 

(details on another thread by me, but I'm not able to post a link to it)

 

On receiving confirmation of the appeal decision, my Manager explained that the disciplinary procedure was not contractual and he could change it if he felt the need. I wrote to HR asking for clarification and they replied with this.

 

""It states in the contract that the disciplinary and grievance procedure do not form part of your terms and conditions."

 

I then wrote to ask for further clarification as to what our legal responsibilities to each other were and received this reply.

 

"Although the company policies and procedures do not form part of your terms and conditions, they do follow statutory ACAS guidelines."

 

The reply continues on to talk about the need for fairness and consistency etc, which of course I agree with and my grivance is actually that if procedure isn't followed, it hasn't been fair or consistent.

 

I'm left completely confused as to what is what here. I don't understand why the procedure isn't a T+C and what bearing that has on me. I read that not every contractual duty needs to be written if it is obvious, but in this case it is clearly written that the procedure is NOT a T+C.

 

I feel the company are being deliberately vague, but don't see why this is.I could go down the grievance route, but feel this would be pointless anyhow.

 

Can anyone clear this up for me, as I'm completely baffled about what my rights are here.

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This is actually relatively common - it is more unusual that a procedure is part of the terms and conditions.

 

If the procedure is part of the terms and conditions it may give rise to a breach of contract claim if the process is not followed to the letter, something which is not always possible for a variety of reasons, many of which may be good reasons. By specifically excluding the procedure from the contract, this means that the employer is not required to follow the process to the letter, but a tribunal would still expect an employer to adhere to the principles and braod process contained therein. An example - many disciplinaries might say that a hearing will be convened within two weeks. If it is contractual then a breach of contract could be claimed if it took three weeks (although good luck trying to claim anything - but it's theoretically possible). If it isn't contractual then three weeks would be ok, even if it said two weeks. "The non-contractual clause" arises out of case law practice and has been common for many years.

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I am a barrister specialising in employment law, and only represent employees. My advice on employment issues is advice - not legal opinion - and is based only on the facts you provide. If you want an accurate assessment of your case and prospects, you should get legal opinion from a lawyer - not a public forum. Anything I tell you is for guidance only, and is based on my experience of the law in the context of what details you provide.

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Thanks SarEl. Makes a lot more sense now. Quite annoying though, as I assume the clause is supposed to be used in fairness, rather than an excuse for lazy management:roll:

 

Oh, well. No point in wasting any more of my time on it then. I'm going to use the proverbial "you can stick your job where the sun doesn't shine" exit clause. No point in working for someone I can't trust.

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