Q&As

What can an employee do if the employer insists on proceeding with a disciplinary hearing during the Coronavirus lockdown, either remotely or by attendance at a neutral place? What if their workplace representative is unable or unwilling to attend due to Coronavirus and the employee insists on this companion?

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Published on LexisPSL on 01/05/2020

The following Employment Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What can an employee do if the employer insists on proceeding with a disciplinary hearing during the Coronavirus lockdown, either remotely or by attendance at a neutral place? What if their workplace representative is unable or unwilling to attend due to Coronavirus and the employee insists on this companion?
  • What can an employee do if the employer insists on proceeding with a disciplinary hearing during the Coronavirus lockdown, either remotely or by attendance at a neutral place?
  • What if the employee’s workplace representative is unable or unwilling to attend to the Coronavirus and the employee insists on this companion?

The Acas guidance for employers and employees on coronavirus (COVID-19) is silent as to how disciplinary meetings should be dealt with during the coronavirus lockdown. However, where employees are not currently attending the workplace it does say that, if an employee refuses to attend work without a valid reason, this could result in disciplinary action.

The response below refers in a number of places to the Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures (Acas Code) and guidance on discipline and grievances at work. For information on the significance of the Acas Code, see Practice Note: Acas disciplinary and grievance code—application.

What can an employee do if the employer insists on proceeding with a disciplinary hearing during the Coronavirus lockdown, either remotely or by attendance at a neutral place?

The answer to this question is likely to depend on whether the employee is able and willing to attend such a hearing and, if not, the reasons why not.

There is nothing in principle to prevent an employer from continuing with disciplinary proceedings during the coronavirus pandemic or lockdown. If the employee in question is on furlough under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the employer cannot ask them to undertake work for, or on behalf, of the organisation or any linked or associated organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue. However, it is unclear whether attending

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