ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) has a code of practice available online on how to deal with disciplinary and grievances procedures.
Quotes from the code:
'...Employers are also required to follow a specific statutory minimum procedure if they are contemplating dismissing an employee or imposing some other disciplinary penalty that is not suspension on full pay or a warning... If an employee is dismissed without the employer following this statutory procedure, and makes a claim to an employment tribunal, providing they have the necessary qualifying service and providing they are not prevented from claiming unfair dismissal by virtue of their age, the dismissal will automatically be ruled unfair. The statutory procedure is a minimum requirement and even where the relevant procedure is followed the dismissal may still be unfair if the employer has not acted reasonably in all the circumstances...'
Why grievance procedures are inappropriate for dealing with bullying:
• the person who normally handles the grievance is usually the bully, or a friend of the bully...
• if the bully is a co-worker, the manager who would handle the grievance has already failed as a manager for allowing the bullying to occur and for failing to deal with the bullying before it got to the grievance stage.
• the bully will deny the target access to records, sometimes rifling the target's desk and stealing notes...
In the beginning there is hope and expectation that the investigation will be held in a transparent and fair manner; that the truth will come out... At the disciplinary action brought against me by the bully colleague, there was no investigation, I had no representative, I was not told my rights. I entered an office to be faced with three managers who had already decided what action to take against me. It was summary execution. Bully managers can use the threat of disciplinary procedures to control, threaten and intimidate staff.
- Lesson learnt: If you are invited to a disciplinary meeting, make sure you know your rights and always have a representative with you. Ideally somebody who can look the bullies in the eyes and can stand up for you.
- Lesson learnt: The investigator is likely to be part of the system, so expect the worse, such as leading questions, ignoring your evidence and even your witnesses, and moving the goalposts. At all stages question everything and ask for written records of meetings so you can verify their accuracy.