Disciplinary Guide

LAST UPDATE: 30.06.23

How to have a legally-compliant ‘disciplinary’ policy that doesn’t shame, blame or punish

By People Support Coop & RadHR


How can progressive employers meet the legal requirements of a disciplinary policy, without embedding punitive values? This guide covers how 'disciplinary' situations can be treated as opportunities for learning and collective improvement.

Practical suggestions to create a disciplinary procedure based on collective accountability. 

Section 1:

Introduction to disciplinary procedures

We consider why we need a disciplinary procedure and how to approach designing one outside of the restrictions of ‘discipline’.

Section 2:

What does the law say?

The laws you need to be aware of when designing a legally-fair procedure. 

Section 3:

What’s wrong with standard disciplinary procedures?

Why the term discipline can be problematic, and how it can reduce co-operation, solidarity and mutual support. 

  • Conduct and capability: Why classing conduct and capability together in one procedure can limit opportunities for supportive action.
  • Hierarchy: Why standard procedures can be problematic for those of us in non-hierarchical organisations.
  • Impartiality: Why ‘impartiality’ can be a difficult concept in progressive organisations. 
  • Confidentiality: How to balance confidentiality with openness. 

Section 4:

What to include in a disciplinary procedure

An overview of the main elements needed for a legally-fair procedure.

  • Informal action: How to create and sustain a supportive culture.
  • Drugs and alcohol: Why addiction should not be a disciplinary matter.
  • Written warnings: How to create non-punitive alternatives to standard disciplinary sanctions.
  • Formal procedure: What you need to know about investigations, formal hearings and appeals.