Catch22 reserves the right to amend this policy, following consultation, where appropriate.
Date of last review: April 2023
Date of next review: July 2024
This policy sets out the process which Catch22 Multi Academies Trust will follow if it considers that an employee may have committed an act of misconduct and the actions that it may take as a result.
Catch22 Multi Academies Trust and its constituent Academies are committed to a coherent approach to the safety, protection and wellbeing of members of the Academy’s community, and to fairness and consistency in the way that disciplinary matters are handled.
This policy applies to all Catch22 Multi Academies Trust employees who have successfully completed their probation period. It does not apply to contractors, consultants, agency workers or any self-employed individuals working for the Trust.
This policy relates to all Academies and settings across Catch22 Multi Academies Trust and supersedes any local policies and procedures that have been in use prior to the Academy conversion.
Safeguarding children and young people
Any allegations of misconduct involving allegations of a child protection nature against an employee should be dealt with in line with the Trust’s Allegations of Abuse against Staff Policy in order to avoid either putting a child at further risk or prejudicing a police or social care investigation.
This procedure will therefore not be used in cases of child protection allegations unless and until there is written confirmation from the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), or their representative that the Academy may proceed with an internal investigation.
Principles of application
The Trust’s approach to addressing disciplinary matters is based on a number of guiding principles which run through this document:
- all staff covered by this document will be treated in a fair, consistent and nondiscriminatory manner;
- proper and adequate procedures based on the principles of natural justice will be followed before any disciplinary decisions are taken;
- management and employees will raise and deal with issues promptly and not unreasonably delay meetings, decisions or confirmation of those decisions;
- application of this policy will be in accordance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
If an employee has difficulty at any stage of the procedure as a result of a disability, they should discuss the situation with their line manager or raise this with the Trust’s People Team as soon as possible.
Types of misconduct
The Trust has clear policies and procedures and a Code of Conduct which employees must follow.
All employees are responsible for familiarising themselves with these policies and procedures, code of conduct, standards of work and any other rules which may be relevant.
Head Teachers and line managers will ensure that employees receive adequate induction, training, support, supervision and advice in connection with their work and are made aware of the relevant standards of work and conduct expected in a way which promotes a positive working environment.
An employee must inform their line manager of any criminal conviction, caution, prosecution or pending prosecution (whether or not committed in work) and/or police interview as this may affect his/her suitability for working with young people. This does not apply to minor driving offences.
It is not possible to define all forms of misconduct and gross misconduct. Examples are provided at Appendix 1. This list is not exhaustive.
Preliminary enquiry / informal action stage
When a concern first arises about an employee’s conduct at work, the line manager will establish the initial facts regarding the matter by carrying out a brief preliminary enquiry and considering whether, on the face of it, attempts should be made to resolve the matter informally with the employee. This enquiry should be carried out as quickly as possible.
Actions following the preliminary enquiry could include:
- No further action is required;
- The misconduct is minor and isolated and can be dealt with via feedback/counselling/informal reprimand identifying the need for improved conduct;
- To refer the matter for further investigation (see section 8);
- To consider whether suspension of the employee is required (see section 7);
- To refer the matter to a disciplinary hearing on the basis of the investigations undertaken so far (see sections 9 – 12).
Where the decision is taken to deal with the matter informally, the line manager should:
- Keep a file note of the incident; explaining what the minor breach in the employee’s conduct was, and what steps have been taken to address the minor breach. A copy of this note should be sent to the Trust’s People Team;
- Advise the employee that any further related breach in her/his conduct may be treated as a formal disciplinary matter, and any other breach would be subject to a further review of the facts.
Authority to suspend by employee level:
- Executive Principal: CEO of Education in consultation with the Trust’s People Partner
- Head Teacher: Executive Principal in consultation with the Trust’s People Partner
- Other Academy Staff: Head Teacher in consultation with the Trust’s People Partner and Executive Principal
Suspension should only be considered where:
- Gross misconduct is suspected;
- The employee’s continued attendance at work may hamper the conduct of a fair, speedy and objective investigation;
- The wellbeing and interests of the Trust’s young people, representatives of other bodies, colleagues or the employee concerned could be put at risk, in anyway whether by reputation or otherwise, by their continued presence at work; and/or
- An alternative e.g. temporary redeployment is not considered appropriate.
Suspension may involve a total suspension from work; suspension of part of the employee’s normal duties; transfer to alternative work or transfer to a different workplace.
Suspension of this kind is not a disciplinary sanction and does not imply “guilt” or that any decision has already been made.
The CEO of Education and Executive Principle, when exercising this power, should immediately inform the Chair of the Local Governing Body outlining the reasons why this action has been taken.
The suspension should normally be confirmed in writing to the employee within 7 working days. The letter should include:
- the reason for the suspension;
- the length of time for which the suspension will be in place (usually for three weeks initially, with extensions notified as required);
- the contact person within the Trust whom the suspended employee can communicate with in order to be kept informed about Academy matters and the progress of the investigation;
- the suspension is on full pay;
- the employee has the right to be accompanied by a Trade Union representative, LinkUp Partner or workplace colleague at any formal hearing;
- suspension in itself does not imply any finding that the allegation has been proven or is believed; and
- details of Catch22’s Employee Assistance Programme telephone service.
Any period of suspension should be as brief as possible, and matters should be promptly investigated within a reasonable timeframe (normally 10 workings days).
If the suspended employee should wish to communicate with other staff (e.g. to use them as defence witnesses), this should be done via the nominated contact and/or through their Trade Union Representative, LinkUp Partner or workplace colleague.
The purpose of an investigation is for the investigating manager to establish a fair and balanced view of the facts relating to any allegations of misconduct against the employee.
Where the misconduct is of a serious nature, the Head Teacher or line manager will commission another manager to investigate the allegations and then step back, so preserving their ability to chair a disciplinary hearing should the matter proceed to this stage.
This investigation may involve reviewing any relevant documents and interviewing the employee and any witnesses.
The employee may be accompanied at an investigation meeting by a Trade Union representative, LinkUp Partner or a workplace colleague.
The employee must cooperate fully and promptly in any investigation, including informing the investigating manager of the names of any relevant witnesses, disclosing any relevant documents and attending any investigatory interview.
Where it is considered necessary to interview students as part of the investigation, they should normally be asked to write down their account of events so that it is in their own words. Interviews should be conducted individually rather than collectively.
Students will be provided support at these meetings. Statements from students may be included as evidence at a disciplinary hearing. Students will never be required or expected to attend a disciplinary hearing as a witness.
Investigations should be completed promptly and within a reasonable timeframe (normally 10 working days).
Once the investigating manager has completed their investigation, they should then send a report to the Head Teacher or the line manager who commissioned the investigation, detailing their findings and include all supporting evidence obtained during the investigation. The Head Teacher or line manager will then take a decision regarding the next steps, this could include referring the matter to a formal disciplinary hearing.
Where the decision is taken to hold a formal disciplinary hearing, the Trust will normally:
- give the employee at least 7 working days’ notice of the hearing in writing;
- tell the employee the purpose of the hearing, the allegation(s) and the potential outcome/penalties;
- advise the employee of their right to be accompanied (see section 11);
- confirm who will be attending the hearing, including the names of any witnesses;
- provide the employee with all relevant paperwork, including the investigating manager’s report and statements from any witnesses;
- ask the employee to provide any additional paperwork upon which they wish to rely on in consideration of his/her case to the Chair in advance of the hearing; and
- confirm the outcome of the hearing to the employee in writing within 7 working days.
Delegations of authority
The manager chairing the disciplinary hearing must be impartial and not implicated in the allegation or involved in any way after the investigation was commissioned.
Depending on the allegation, the following managers may chair disciplinary/appeal hearings:
|Allegation||Against||Authority to chair a disciplinary hearing||Authority to chair appeal hearing|
|Misconduct||Staff other than Head Teacher or Deputy Head Teacher||Line Manager or Head Teacher||Head Teacher or Executive Principal|
|Serious or gross misconduct||Head Teacher||Executive Principal|
|Misconduct||Deputy Head Teacher||Head Teacher||Executive Principal|
|Serious or gross misconduct||Executive Principal||Other Executive Principal|
|Misconduct||Head Teacher||Executive Principal||Other Executive Principal|
|Serious or gross misconduct||Executive Principal||Board of Trustees|
The Chair of the hearing will be supported by a People Partner where a potential outcome of the hearing is dismissal. A People Partner will attend all appeal hearings.
Right to be accompanied
Employees have the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative, LinkUp Partner or workplace colleague at all formal meetings under this policy.
It is the responsibility of the employee to arrange their own representation and to provide them with copies of all the relevant paperwork.
In advance of the hearing, the employee must notify the Chair of who will be accompanying them.
The employee’s representative may address the hearing to put forward the employee’s case, sum up the employee’s case and respond on the employee’s behalf to any views expressed. The employee’s representative may not answer questions on behalf of the employee.
If the employee’s chosen companion is unable to attend the hearing, the Trust will rearrange the meeting at a time/date proposed by the employee provided the alternative time/date is both reasonable and unless mutually agreed, is not more than 7 working days after the date originally proposed.
- If the employee is unable to attend the hearing for another reason, provided this is considered reasonable, the Chair of the hearing may agree to adjourn the hearing to another day. The employee will be given 7 working days’ notice of the rearranged hearing.
- If the employee is unable to attend the re-arranged hearing, it may take place in their absence. The employee may submit a written statement or alternatively their representative may present their case in his/her absence.
Sanctions must be applied reasonably and be proportionate to the misconduct. Where a disciplinary allegation is upheld, the employee may be issued with one of the following sanctions:
- A written warning for misconduct or minor misconduct which has reoccurred after informal action. A written warning is recorded and kept on an employee’s personnel file for 12 months;
- A final written warning for misconduct that is considered to be serious enough to warrant only one warning before dismissal or a further act of misconduct where a previous warning is still current. A final written warning is recorded and kept on an employee’s personnel file for 24 months. The final written warning should inform the employee that any further action of misconduct while the warning is still current, could lead to their dismissal;
- Dismissal for a further act of misconduct where a previous warning is still current or in the case of gross misconduct;
- Dismissal for gross misconduct will normally be without notice.
The Chair should confirm the outcome in writing to the employee within 7 working days of the hearing. At this stage the employee should also be notified of their right of appeal and how to exercise that right of appeal.
An employee who is given a formal warning or is dismissed under this procedure has the right of appeal. An appeal hearing is not a re-hearing of the disciplinary case and as such, an appeal may only proceed on the following grounds:
- The proper procedure was not followed and this materially affected the outcome decision;
- The decision reached was not supported by the evidence presented;
- The sanction awarded was too severe, taking in to account the nature of the misconduct and the mitigating circumstances;
- New evidence which is pertinent, goes to the heart of the case, and was not reasonably available at the time, has become accessible.
- The employee should lodge his/her appeal with the Chair of the original disciplinary hearing, within 7 working days of receiving written confirmation of the sanction imposed on him/her by the Trust.
An appeal request will be acknowledged within 7 working days, and the appeal hearing convened within a further 7 working days, but if for any reason this is not possible, within a reasonable period, after the appeal is lodged.
The appeal hearing will be chaired by a more senior manager than the manager who made the decision that is being appealed, supported by a People Partner (see section 10).
An appeal hearing will result in one of the following outcomes:
- The appeal is upheld and any sanction imposed by the disciplinary panel is withdrawn;
- The appeal is not upheld but a lesser sanction is considered appropriate;
- The appeal is not upheld and the original sanction stands (the Chair of the appeal hearing cannot increase the original sanction).
The outcome of the appeal will be confirmed to the employee in writing, within 7 working days, explaining the grounds on which the decision was reached. The outcome of the appeal will be final and there is no further right of appeal.
Definition of “Working Day”
For the purposes of this policy, timescales are expressed in working days. In the case of teachers or other staff that work a term-time pattern, a working day should be regarded as a day that the Academy is open for students. For staff that work all year round, a working day should be regarded as a weekday, excluding Public and Bank Holidays.
Where a conduct issue arises just before an Academy holiday, arrangements to resolve the matter speedily should be discussed between the parties. An intervening Academy holiday should not of itself be a cause for an undue delay in resolving the case.
Disciplinary proceedings are confidential. Information made available in the course of disciplinary proceedings must not be shared with anyone except those directly involved. This does not preclude a confidential consultation with a trade union representative or LinkUp Partner for support or professional advice.
Links with other procedures
The submission of a complaint by an employee during disciplinary proceedings will not normally prevent the continuation of the disciplinary proceedings. Where appropriate, a complaint related to the disciplinary proceedings should be dealt with as part of the disciplinary process and not pursued through the Trust’s grievance procedure.
Where an employee subject to this procedure is absent due to sickness, the normal expectation is that the disciplinary process will continue and the managing sickness procedure will apply as normal.
Criminal offences outside of employment
The ACAS booklet on Discipline at Work provides advice to employers when confronted with special situations such as this. The first question to be asked is whether the alleged offence (or conviction) merits action because of its employment implications? Does the offence make the employee unsuitable for their type of work, or unsuitable to remain in their present employment?
The Trust should investigate the facts as far as possible, come to a view about them and consider whether the conduct warrants disciplinary action. Where it determines that such action is required, the Trust does not need to wait for the outcome of the prosecution before taking fair and reasonable action. In these circumstances the procedure set out in this document shall be applied as appropriate.
In some cases the nature of the alleged offence may not justify disciplinary action – for example, off-duty conduct which has no bearing on employment – but the employee may not be available for work because they are in custody or on remand. In these cases the Trust should decide whether, in the light of the needs of the organisation, the employee’s job can be held open.
Where a criminal conviction leads, for example, to the loss of a licence so that continued employment in a particular job would be illegal, the Trust should consider whether alternative work is appropriate and available.
Where an employee, charged with or convicted of a criminal offence, refuses or is unable to cooperate with the Trust’s disciplinary investigations and proceedings, this should not deter the Trust from taking action. The employee should be advised in writing that unless further information is provided, a disciplinary decision will be taken on the basis of the information available and could result in dismissal.
Where police or other investigations are being carried out in relation to this section, a suspension may be continued until the investigations are complete or, where appropriate, court action taken.