The Procedural Justice of a Disciplinary Process

Following on from my blog last month which looked at the Distributive Justice of Equal Pay under the Equality Act, I thought I would look at ‘Procedural Justice’ – another important and well-known facet of ‘Organisational Justice’ – with particular regard to ensuring an organisation’s disciplinary procedure is consistent and fair.

Defining Procedural Justice

Procedural justice can be defined as an individual’s perception that the process they have been through was well-designed, appropriate, and well managed” (Arnold and Randall, 2010); or “the issue of justice when using methods, tools, and processes to determine results” (Folger and Cropanzano, 1998). Furthermore, the main component parts of ‘procedural justice’ can be summarised as follows: (1) A lack of bias for and against an individual or group; (2) Accuracy of information used to make decisions; (3) Effective representation for all stakeholders; (4) Correction of errors or injustices via appeal or an appeal procedure; and (5) Defined ethical codes of conduct which are followed.

Naturally, genuine procedural justice can lead to positive organisational outcomes such as an increase in employee commitment, trust in management, diversity within the organisation, and increased job satisfaction.

Procedural Justice when managing discipline

It is vitally important that employers deal with disciplinary issues promptly, fairly, and consistently to resolve the matter without causing unnecessary frustration to the parties involved, as well as naturally protecting the organisation in the event of a dismissal for example.

We would recommend that every organisation has a robust disciplinary procedure which includes the following: (1) a list of the types of offences (and the indicative sanction that they would normally receive) that would merit disciplinary action; (2) the option of suspension; (3) the stages of the actual procedure which could include details on informal resolutions, the investigation stage, the disciplinary hearing stage, and appeal hearing(s). In terms of extra clarity, each stage of the process should be overseen by an appropriate (and where possible, different) individual, the employee has the right to be accompanied throughout the process, and suitable timescales for each respective stage should be specified.

ACAS provide good basic advice on managing disciplinary procedures but if you require specialist advice that is tailored to your organisation, then please do not hesitate to contact one of our advisors in Edinburgh (0131 225 7458) or Glasgow (0141 459 7458).

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