Q. It has come to my attention that one of my employees has recently committed an act of misconduct. What should I do?

A: On 6 April 2009 ACAS’ Code of Practice 1 brought new changes to disciplinary procedures. You should carry out investigations without unreasonable delay. In some cases this will mean that you will need to hold an investigatory interview with the employee and in other cases it will mean that you will need to collate evidence for use at the disciplinary hearing. If possible, different people should carry out the investigation and disciplinary hearing. If you suspend the employee with pay, this period should be as brief as possible and should be kept under review. You shall also make it clear that the suspension is not a disciplinary action. If you decide that there is a case to answer you should notify the employee in writing including sufficient information about the alleged misconduct and its possible consequences to allow the employee to prepare for the disciplinary meeting. You should include copies of any evidence including witness statements with your letter. Your letter should also give details of the time and venue for the disciplinary meeting and advise the employee of their right to be accompanied. You should thereafter hold the meeting, allow the employee to be accompanied, decide on the appropriate action and provide the employee with an opportunity to appeal.

Q. One of my employees is returning to work after maternity leave. She has informed us that she has a right to work part time. Is this correct?

A: There is no absolute right to work part time. However, if you refuse her request without justification, it may amount to indirect sex discrimination or less favourable treatment of a part time worker. In deciding whether your requirements for her to work part time is justifiable, a Tribunal must not simply consider whether you have good reason for requiring her to work full time. Rather, a Tribunal will consider your reasons as against the discriminatory effect on the employee.

Q. One of our employees is alleging that we discriminated against him due to his disability in that we failed to make reasonable adjustments. Do I have an obligation to consent to any adjustment he requests?

A: The Disability Discrimination Act suggests that as an employer you may have to make reasonable adjustments. In order to consider whether it is reasonable for you to make the necessary adjustments an Employment Tribunal would consider the extent to which the adjustment will have prevented the disadvantage, the practical ability of you making the adjustment, your financial and other resources, the availability of financial or other assistance to make the adjustment and the cost of disruption.