Essential points

  • Employers should ensure that their own dismissal, disciplinary and grievance policies and procedures comply with the Acas Code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. 

  • Employers must follow a fair procedure when dealing with both grievances and disciplinary matters, including conducting an invesitgation, allowing a companion, keeping a written record of what was decided, any actions taken, whether an appeal was lodged, and the outcome of that appeal. 

  • In the event of a dispute, an employment tribunal should be a last resort, when all other options have been exhausted. 

  • During a disciplinary procedure, HR advice should be limited to questions of law, procedure and process. The actual findings on culpability and sanction should be decided by the manager.

Links to relevant legislation

The most important provisions governing discipline and grievances at work are found in the Employment Act 2008 and Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2008. The Acas Code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures is also of significant importance. 

The Employment Act doesn’t apply to Northern Ireland. Disciplinary, grievance and dismissal resources specific to Northern Ireland are provided by nidirect and the Labour Relations Agency. 

Employers and employees should do all they can to resolve disciplinary and grievance issues themselves and if necessary should use a third party (for example, a mediator or an arbitrator) to help resolve the problem. There is a requirement for Acas early conciliation in most cases – the employment tribunal ought to be a last resort. 


Case law

Here we list a selection of key cases on discipline and grievance issues, providing a summary of the decision and implications for employers.


Please note: While every care has been taken in compiling this content, CIPD cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. These notes are not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice. 

law advice

Want more employment law advice? Members can phone the CIPD legal helpline or take out a discounted subscription to HR-inform for additional resources.

Callout Image

Related content on disciplinary and grievance

Discipline and grievance at work

Learn the fundamentals of disciplinary and grievance policies and practices in the workplace

Disciplinary and grievance

Explore our disciplinary and grievance resources in the workplace

Disciplinary and grievance procedures: Guidance for managers

Advice on how the disciplinary process is used to deal with misconduct or poor performance and how to best handle a grievance from a member of staff

Employment law

Access more employment law resources

Employment law
Stress and wellbeing: UK employment law

Explore our collection of resources around legal issues surrounding stress and wellbeing in the workplace

For Members
Employment law
Religion and belief discrimination: UK employment law

Explore our collection of resources around legal issues relating to religion and belief discrimination in the workplace, including philosophical beliefs

For Members
Employment law
Recruitment: UK employment law

Explore our collection of resources and Q&As covering the recruitment process, from pre-employment checks and case law, to employing overseas workers

For Members
Employment law
Timetable of recent and forthcoming legislation: UK employment law

Keep up to date with the latest employment law developments and proposed future changes

For Members