UCL Qatar Disciplinary Procedure
1.1 The purpose of this document is to set down the procedures to be followed when standards of conduct give rise to problems which cannot be resolved by advice and encouragement, training or increased support. UCL Qatar is committed to the avoidance of formal disciplinary procedures wherever possible by addressing problems as soon as they arise. This procedure is intended to provide consistency in the treatment of staff and, to ensure matters are dealt with promptly. UCL Qatar will undertake disciplinary action with employees in accordance with the provisions of this procedure.
2.1 This procedure applies to all staff employed at UCL Qatar except those who are within their probationary period, who are covered by UCL's Probation and Induction Policy.
2.2 Academic staff are also covered by the provisions laid out in Statute 18.
2.3 Issues of underperformance should be addressed in line with the UCL Qatar Capability policy on managing under-performance.
2.4 Suspected fraud or financial irregularity may need to be investigated outside this policy and procedure in compliance with UCL's Fraud Policy.
2.5 Matters relating to research misconduct should be raised under UCL's Procedure for Investigating and resolving Allegations of Research Misconduct
3.1 Any reference to Director, Chief Operating Officer or "Director, HR Consultancy and OSD" also includes anyone deputed by them.
3.2 In this procedure "employees" are people who work for UCL Qatar under a contract of employment.
3.3 In this procedure "parties" refers to the employee against whom the disciplinary action is being considered, and the manager who initiates the procedure.
4. General Principles
- Fairness: The application of this procedure will be consistent, prompt, impartial, reasonable and applied without discrimination.
- Confidentiality: Information relating to an allegation of misconduct should not be divulged to any parties not involved in the disciplinary process. Statements, letters and other communications will be strictly confidential to those involved in the disciplinary procedure and records will be kept in accordance with the Data Protection policy UCL Qatar http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/qatar/policy/data_protection.php.
- Natural justice: At every formal stage of the disciplinary procedure, the employee will be advised of the nature of the complaint, in writing and will be given the opportunity to state his/her case. Where a warning is given, the employee will be provided with appropriate support to improve his/her conduct.
- Equal opportunities: This policy will be applied without any distinction as to sex or gender, age, sexual orientation, marital or parental status or other family circumstance, race, ethnic or national origin, colour, creed, disability, political belief, membership of or activities as part of a trade union, or social or economic status. UCL monitors the use of its disciplinary procedure by the sex, age, ethnic origin and disability status of those against whom action is taken to ensure that its implementation does not impact unfairly on any one group.
- Representation: The employee has the right to be accompanied by a work colleague1 at every stage of the formal procedure. Any request to be accompanied at a meeting must be reasonable i.e. the workplace representative should not be someone who may have a conflict of interest or who may prejudice the hearing. The employee should notify the Hearing Manager of his/her chosen workplace representative prior to a meeting.
- Right of appeal: An employee has a right of appeal against any formal disciplinary sanction and appeals will be heard by a manager not previously involved in the case, in accordance with the Appeals Procedure.
- Recordings: Audio/Visual recordings of the proceedings by the employee, his/her workplace colleague or managers are not acceptable at any stage of the disciplinary procedure and will not be admissible within this process, unless agreed as a reasonable adaptation.
- Discipline and Grievance: Any concerns that an employee has regarding disciplinary action being taken against her or him should be raised as part of his/her response to the disciplinary action and will normally be considered within this procedure. Any grievance raised by an employee who is already subject to a disciplinary process (and which does not relate to it) will normally be heard on completion of the disciplinary procedure
5. Informal action
5.1 Informal action should be taken in cases of minor misconduct - issues of underperformance should be addressed in line with the [insert UCL Qatar Capability policy].
5.2 A one-to-one confidential discussion between the line manager and the employee should be held with the intention of gaining sustained improvement in the employee's conduct. This discussion should enable the manager to provide constructive feedback and the employee to express views on the issue. It is important for both parties to understand that informal action is not formal disciplinary action and employees are not entitled to representation at this stage. Where the need for improvement is identified, the manager should explain to the employee what needs to be done and how the conduct will be reviewed in a given period. Brief confidential notes should be kept by the manager on any agreed informal action.
6. Formal Action - Investigation
6.1 Prior to formal disciplinary procedures being invoked, an employee may have received from his/her supervisor some informal indication that his/her conduct or behaviour is unsatisfactory. For more serious incidents of misconduct, it will be appropriate for this to be dealt with under the formal process in the first instance.
6.2 A Disciplinary Hearing will not be convened until the necessary facts have been established. The Manager will normally be responsible for undertaking the disciplinary investigation and will undertake this promptly. Where there is a conflict of interest an Investigating Manager2 nominated by the Director / Chief Operating Officer may be nominated to undertake the investigation. The HR Director should be approached for advice in investigating a disciplinary matter.
Suspension on full pay
6.3 There may be occasions where suspension is necessary. Where suspension is invoked, it will be on full pay and only for such time as is necessary to permit proper investigation or to arrange a hearing date. Careful consideration must be given before a decision to suspend is taken. It may be deemed necessary to facilitate investigation into a potential disciplinary matter, to allow a cooling off period, where relationships have broken down, gross misconduct has occurred or where there are risks to other employees or to UCL's property. The period of suspension will be kept under regular review. The fact and conditions of the suspension will be confirmed in a letter to the employee immediately.
6.4 Suspension is not a disciplinary sanction and is not an assumption of guilt. Normally an employee will be suspended by the Director/ Chief Operating Officer only after consulting with the Divisional Director of Human Resources. The Provost or Divisional Director of Human Resources may also suspend a member of staff. Exceptionally, it may be necessary for the Director/Chief Operating Officer to send an employee home before being able to consult the Divisional Director of Human Resources. In such a case, formal written confirmation of the suspension and the reasons for it will be confirmed by the Director/Chief Operating Officer as soon as the Divisional Director of Human Resources has been informed of the circumstances.
Conducting an Investigation
6.5 The Manager will conduct an investigation which is confined to establishing the facts of the case and will include all aspects of the allegation, including who is making the allegation. There may be exceptional circumstances where the identity of the person making the complaint will not be revealed as part of the investigation report i.e. where someone may be put at risk. The nature and extent of the investigation will depend on the seriousness of the matter. The Manager will advise the employee who is the subject of the allegation of the detail in writing and invite his/her response. The employee should be advised of the nature of the allegations no later than 15 working days after the employer has become aware of the allegations. This may be longer where a criminal offence is alleged. An investigatory meeting with the employee will be appropriate in most cases, though a written response may suffice. The employee must be notified of the meeting so s/he has reasonable time to prepare. The investigation will also include the collation of evidence for a possible hearing, taking statements from, and usually meeting with relevant parties, including where appropriate any witnesses to the alleged incident(s) of misconduct. Any witness to the alleged misconduct may be required to make a signed and dated written statement as soon as possible after the investigation meeting.
6.6 The Manager may be accompanied by a colleague from Human Resources at such meetings to provide advice and guidance. The employee concerned may be accompanied at such meeting(s) by a workplace colleague (as defined in section 4).
6.7 The Manager will prepare a report based on the findings of his/her investigation, including where evidence was not found. The Director/Chief Operating Officer with advice from the HR Director will determine whether or not a disciplinary hearing is required based upon the findings of the investigation. If the Director/ Chief Operating Officer considers that it is not appropriate to convene a formal disciplinary hearing, but that informal advice or guidance is appropriate, any resulting discussion will be in private and the employee will be informed that no disciplinary action is being taken.
7. The Disciplinary Procedure
7.1 Where it is identified that a disciplinary hearing is required, the following timescales should be followed, where possible. Please note ‘working days’ is based on a 5 day working week. For part time staff this includes any ‘non working days’.
The employee notified in writing that s/he is required to attend a disciplinary hearing. Employee provided with details of the disciplinary charge and case including the names and statements of any witnesses who will be called by management
10 working days before the date of the hearing.
Employee to provide any written response including names of any witnesses and their statements
5 working days before the date of the hearing
Both parties involved in the hearing to be provided copies of all outstanding written submissions received
3 working days before the date of the hearing
Director/Chief Operating Officer notifies employee orally of outcome of disciplinary hearing.
Within one working day of the decision
Director/Chief Operating Officer notifies employee of outcome of disciplinary hearing in writing and informs employee of right to appeal
5 working days after the hearing
7.3 The Hearing will consist of one manager specified by the Director/ Chief Operating Officer. The designated Hearing Manager will be advised by the HR Director and a note taker will be made available for such hearings. These notes will form the basis of a formal record of the meeting (see 8.5).
7.4 The employee will be advised in that s/he is required to attend a disciplinary hearing at a specified place and time. The employee will be advised that s/he has the right to be accompanied at the Hearing (as specified in 4) and will be provided with a copy of this policy and procedure.
7.5 The Hearing Manager can decide on the witnesses to be called at the Hearing in consultation with the parties taking into account the information each witness can offer. Where it is not practical for witnesses to attend, the Hearing Manager may continue to proceed with the hearing if s/he is of the view that verbal evidence from the witnesses will not affect the consideration of the complaint.
7.6 The employee and his/her workplace colleague must make every effort to attend the hearing. The employee may offer a reasonable alternative date if his/her chosen workplace representative cannot attend the hearing. If the employee fails to attend for reasons outside of his/her control e.g. sickness, another suitable date may be proposed for the hearing. If after one occasion without good reason, an employee does not attend the disciplinary hearing, the hearing may proceed in his/her absence and a decision will be made on the evidence available. The employee will be informed that this will take place.
8. Disciplinary Hearing
8.1 The Hearing Manager will ensure equal treatment of all parties and ensure they have received copies of all relevant papers. The Hearing Manager will ensure that all aspects of the case are considered and may seek further clarification of the written submissions from whomsoever they feel appropriate. The hearing may be adjourned if new facts emerge.
8.2 The employee shall attend throughout the hearing and may call witnesses. The Hearing Manager shall be empowered to call witnesses who have been identified to the employee prior to the hearing. Witnesses who are required to attend meetings under this procedure at times other than their normal working hours will be paid plain time or given time off in lieu.
8.3 The order of the hearing will usually be as follows:
- Introductions as appropriate
- Hearing manager will explain the complaint/charges
- The manager will present the findings of their report and explain the evidence supporting the charges to the hearing manager and present their witness/es
- The employee shall have the opportunity to ask questions of the manager and their witness/es and raise points about information provided by them
- The hearing manager shall have the opportunity to ask questions of the manager and their witness/es
- The employee will set out his/her case and present their witness/es
- The manager shall have the opportunity to ask questions of the employee and their witness/es and raise points about information provided by them
- The hearing manager shall have the opportunity to ask questions of the employee and their witness/es
- Both parties shall have the opportunity to sum up his/her case. No new evidence should be introduced at this stage
- The hearing manager shall sum up the main points of the evidence put forward
- If considered necessary by the hearing manager, the meeting shall be adjourned to allow further investigation into the matters raised or to ask questions of any witnesses who were unable to attend the hearing.
- The hearing manager should advise the employee when they might reasonably expect a response within the timescales of this procedure
8.4 The HR Director (or other designated HR representative) must be present during the hearing (via video conferencing (or other suitable technology) to give professional advice to the hearing manager and may contribute where necessary.
8.5 A note will be taken of all disciplinary hearings. Typed notes will always be made available to all parties in advance of an appeal hearing. The Parties should raise any factual inaccuracies of notes with the hearing manager within five working days of receipt.
9.1 After the hearing, the hearing manager, having fully considered the circumstances of the case will decide whether or not a disciplinary sanction is justified. For a disciplinary sanction to be justified in a situation where the facts of the case have been in dispute and a full investigation has been conducted, there must be a reasonably held belief on the grounds of probability, that the employee committed the act in question.
9.2 The decision will be provided to the employee orally, normally within one working day of the decision being made. Written confirmation with full reasoning for the decision will be provided to the employee normally within five working days after the hearing.
10 Levels of Disciplinary Action
10.1 Disciplinary action can range from an oral warning to dismissal. Levels of disciplinary action are as follows:
- A formal oral warning - will normally be issued if:
- it is considered that the conduct of an employee has fallen below an acceptable standard and the member of staff has committed a minor offence
- where it is found that such a disciplinary offence has occurred, the outcome will normally consist in the first instance of an oral warning, which will be recorded by the manager concerned. A formal oral warning will normally lapse 6 months after issue.
- A written warning - will normally be issued if:
- there is no improvement in conduct about which the employee has previously been warned or
- another related instance has occurred during the currency of a previous warning or
- misconduct is confirmed and the conduct is of such seriousness that an oral warning is not appropriate.
Where it is found that such a disciplinary offence has occurred a written warning will be given to the employee and a copy placed on his/her personal record. A written warning will normally lapse 12 months after issue.
- Final written warning - will normally be issued if:
- A written warning has already been issued and another instance of misconduct has occurred while it is current or
- there is no improvement in the conduct about which the employee has previously been warned or
- the conduct is of such seriousness that Level 1 and 2 actions are not appropriate but would not justify a dismissal.
Where it is found that such a disciplinary offence has occurred, a final written warning will be given to the employee and a copy placed on his/her personal record. A final written warning will normally lapse 18 months after issue.
- Dismissal - will normally occur if:
- an allegation of gross misconduct is found to be proven or
- there is no improvement in the conduct within the specified period which has been the subject of a final written warning or
- another instance of misconduct has occurred during the currency of a previous warning and a final written warning has already been issued.
Where a member of staff is dismissed; s/he will receive a written statement of the reasons for his/her dismissal, the date on which the employment contract will end, the appropriate period of notice or payment in lieu, payment of any outstanding annual leave and the right of appeal. They will not be entitled to any end of service gratuity payment.
Should the Hearing manager consider, however, that in light of all the circumstances, dismissal is not warranted, an alternative to dismissal may be imposed in the form of extending the period of the existing final written warning for a further twelve months, demotion to a lower graded role or loss of seniority.
10.2 Some acts termed gross misconduct are so serious in themselves or have such serious consequences that they may call for a dismissal on the first offence. Any dismissal for gross misconduct will take immediate effect once the decision has been made and the employee will be entitled to no notice period regarding the termination of his/her employment. They will not be entitled to any end of service gratuity payment. Below is a list gross misconduct, as determined under Article 61 of Labour Law No 14 of Qatar which may result in dismissal.
- If the worker assumes a false identity or nationality or submits false certificates or documents.
- If the worker commits an act which causes gross financial loss to the employer provided that the employer shall notify the Department of the incident within twenty four hours from the time of his being aware thereof.
- If the worker violates more than once the written instructions of the employer concerning the safety of the workers and the establishment despite his being notified in writing of the violation provided that these instructions shall be written and posted up in a conspicuous place.
- If the worker fails more than once to carry out his essential duties under the service contract or this law despite his having been notified in writing thereof.
- If the worker discloses the secrets of the establishment where he is employed.
- If the worker is found during the working hours in a state of drunkenness or under the influence of a drug.
- If the worker commits an assault on the person of the employer, the manager or one of his supervisors in the work during the work or by reason thereof.
- If the worker repeats his assault on his colleagues in work despite his being warned in writing thereof.
- If the worker absents himself from work without legitimate cause for more than seven consecutive days or fifteen days in one year.
- If the worker has been finally sentenced for a crime involving immorality or dishonesty.
10.3 Disciplinary action taken will normally be disregarded for disciplinary purposes after the warning has expired. The decision to dismiss will not be based on an expired warning but there may be occasions where the existence of such a warning will explain the reasoning behind a decision to dismiss e.g. where an employee's conduct is satisfactory throughout the period a warning is valid, but ceases to be satisfactory very soon thereafter.
11 Notification of Outcome
11.1 Where disciplinary action is taken, the employee will be informed of the outcome as soon as possible, including:-
- The nature of the misconduct.
- The disciplinary sanction awarded including the level of any warning given.
- The reasons why the disciplinary action was taken.
- The consequences of any further failure to adhere to acceptable standards of conduct. In cases where a final written warning is given it should be made clear that further formal disciplinary action may result in dismissal.
- The provision of any support, counselling or corrective action that is required and if not immediate, the time within which improvement will be expected.
- The period given for improvement and the improvement expected.
- The time period within which the warning will be considered to have lapsed
- a formal oral warning will normally lapse 6 months after issue.
- a written warning will normally lapse 12 months after issue.
- a final written warning will normally lapse 18 months after issue.
11.2 A formal written warning will normally be accompanied by the withholding of incremental progression (where the employee is eligible for progression) for six months, unless this is deemed inappropriate by the Director/Chief Operating Officer.
12. Appeal Procedure
12.1 Where an employee is notified that a disciplinary sanction has been awarded against him/her, s/he will also be notified of the right of appeal. Where an employee feels the decision taken against him/her is wrong or unjust, s/he may appeal against the decision. The following procedure should be followed for disciplinary appeals. In exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to extend these time limits.
Disciplinary Appeal Procedure
Employee raises appeal in writing to Director or Chief Operating Officer
No later than 7 working days after receiving the disciplinary hearing outcome in writing
Hearing will be heard within 7 working days of receipt of appeal letter, or as soon as reasonably practicable
Appeal Hearing Manager notifies employee of outcome of appeal hearing in writing
5 working days after the appeal hearing
12.2 An employee wishing to appeal against disciplinary action must submit notice of appeal in writing within seven working days of receipt of the written confirmation of the disciplinary action, clearly stating the grounds for appeal. The disciplinary sanction imposed as a result of the original hearing will remain in force unless and until it is modified as a result of the appeal.
12.3 The employee must be specific about the grounds of the appeal. These will effectively form the agenda for the hearing and determine the parties to be present at the appeal hearing. Appeals may be raised on the following grounds;
- the procedure: a failure to follow procedure,
- the decision - the evidence did not support the conclusion reached,
- the penalty - this was too severe given the circumstances of the case
- inconsistency of the penalty, or
- new evidence - which has genuinely come to light since the first hearing.
12.4 The employee will be notified as soon as possible of the time, date and place of the appeal hearing. The employee will be advised that s/he may be accompanied by a workplace colleague (as specified in 4).
12.5 The Appeal will be heard by another manager who has not previously been involved in the case. The HR Director or nominated representative will provide professional HR advice to the panel and a note taker will be made available. This should normally be within 7 working days of receipt of the appeal.
12.6 The appeal manager will explain the purpose of the meeting, how it will be conducted, and the action which may be taken as a result of the appeal hearing. The employee will be asked to explain the grounds for his/her appeal. The manager and / or hearing manager will be asked to respond to the grounds of the appeal. The appeal manager shall summarise the findings once all of the relevant issues have been thoroughly explored.
12.7 The meeting shall be adjourned to allow consideration of the decision. The disciplinary hearing decision may be re-considered if it becomes apparent there was no sound basis for this. Where an appeal against disciplinary action is upheld, reference to the disciplinary sanction shall be removed from the employee's record. If the appeal is not upheld but the appeal manager considered the sanction to be inappropriate it may reduce the sanction or deem that it be operative for a shorter period. Where an appeal against dismissal is upheld, the employee shall be paid in full for the period from the date of dismissal and continuity of service will be maintained.
12.8 The result of the appeal will be notified to the employee orally within one day of the decision and in writing including reasons for the decision within five working days of the hearing.
12.9 The decision of the Appeal is final. Notes of the appeal hearing will be made available on request.
HR Policy and Planning
2 In some cases, for example under UCL policies on Public Interest Disclosure: UCL Qatar or when investigating allegations of Financial Irregularity or Misconduct in Research, or suspected abuse of UCL's Computing Regulations it will be appropriate for a member of the Internal Audit Team, Information Systems or a senior Security Manager to assist with the investigation or act as the Investigating Manager.