Best practice and UK legislation affecting employees and employers for resolving disputes in employment
Note: The ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) statutory Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance became effective in the UK on 6 April 2009 and replaced the previous Disputes and Grievances Code issued in 2004.
If you are in the UK, you will find excellent free support and advice is available for employers and employees at ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service).
See the ACAS website for more details, and specifically the webpage about The New Workplace Problem-Solving Process, which ACAS says aims to achieve: "...Less emphasis on the mechanics of how to manage disciplinary issues, grievances and dismissals, and more flexibility to resolve problems at an early stage and in a way that suits you (employees and employers) best."
Employers particularly must seek local (national) qualified advice where appropriate when formulating dismissal and grievance policies and when acting in these matters.
Here's the excellent ACAS guide to the new UK Code of Practice for Dispute and Grievance Resolution.
UK Government support (since the 2010 change of government and departmental name) tends to be from BIS (UK Government Department for Business Innovation and Skills) or BERR (as was, the Department of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform).
As at 2011, full details of the current law and interpretations are at which at some point might redirect to a new UK Government BIS webpage).
And further BIS/BERR information about the detailed workings of the new Dispute and Grievance Resolution Rules.
For further details contact ACAS - ACAS National Helpline (UK): 08457 474747.
The reasons for proper process in resolving employment disputes continue to apply, as ever:
Disputes at work are expensive, stressful and disruptive for employers and employees.
Early, constructive discussion can produce solutions before problems escalate and working relationships break down.
Guidance on handling redundancies is contained quite separately on the ACAS Redundancy Handling pages.