Disciplinary Statute

This page outlines provides a summary of information contained in Statute 28 (Disciplinary Statute). You'll also find definitions, role outlines and information on further supports to guide you. 

While the disciplinary statute is the the main source of information on any investigation, disciplinary or appeal procedure, Disciplinary Statute Guidelines have been developed as a reference guide for anyone either conducting a disciplinary investigation meeting or for an employee who is subjected to disciplinary proceedings.

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The disciplinary statute has been developed in accordance with the Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures) (Declaration) Order, 2000 and adheres to the following general principles.

  • Details of any allegations or complaints are put to the employee concerned
  • The employee concerned is given the opportunity to respond fully to any such allegations or complaints
  • The employee concerned is given the opportunity to avail of the right to be represented by a trade union official during the procedure and
  • The employee concerned has the right to fair and impartial determination of the issues concerned, taking into account any representation made by, or on behalf of, the employee any other relevant or appropriate evidence, factors or circumstances

This disciplinary statute forms part of terms and conditions of employment and has been agreed following consultation with SIPTU, UNITE and IFUT. All employees are required to co-operate with the disciplinary statute. Failure to do so could result in disciplinary action.

People managers have a responsibility to ensure that any management of either performance or conduct issues are done so in accordance with the disciplinary statute. It has been envisioned, that where possible, conduct and performance issues will be addressed informally in the first instance.

Frequently Asked Questions – Disciplinary Statute

FAQ’s have developed to answer questions in relation to the disciplinary statute. The FAQ’s are based on the most commonly asked questions and have been designed for informational purposes. At all times, the disciplinary statute is the main source of information on any investigation, disciplinary or appeal procedure.

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What is the Disciplinary Statute?

The Disciplinary Statute is a legislative document signed by the President and the Governing Authority. This document has been agreed between Human Resources and the three recognised trade unions, SIPTU, IFUT and Unite. 

This document sets out the procedures that will be adhered to during a disciplinary investigation process and any subsequent appeal.

What is informal disciplinary action?

Informal disciplinary action is remedial action, which is aimed at supporting the individual to improve, in either their performance and/or behaviour without having to resort to formal disciplinary action. 

Informal disciplinary action means that the employee is warned that if there is no improvement in their performance or there is a repeat of the behaviour, that the next step would be formal disciplinary action. The employee should be given the supports and resources to improve before instigating he disciplinary statute.

What is the purpose of a disciplinary investigation meeting?

The purpose of a disciplinary investigation meeting is to give the employee an opportunity to fully respond to the allegations that have been made. No decision will be made until all relevant information has been taken into consideration.

How long will a disciplinary process take?

A disciplinary process should be processed as quickly as possible, however depending on the circumstances, a greater level of information may be required. An employee will be given at least 5 working days’ notice of the requirement to attend a disciplinary investigation meeting. In cases other than potential dismissal, once all the relevant responses and information has been considered, a decision will be issued within 10 working days.

What rights does an employee have at a disciplinary investigation?

An employee has the right;

  • To be informed and to be provided with the details of any allegations that have been made against them. 
  • To be accompanied at any such meeting by a colleague of their choice, by a whole time official of a recognised trade union or a Local Trade Union Representative. 
  • To submit suggestions for witness(es) for consideration by the Line Manager/Head of School. 
  • To respond fully to the allegations, which can include oral and written submissions. 
  • To a fair and impartial determination of the issues concerned, taking into account any representations made by, or on behalf of, the employee and any other relevant or appropriate evidence, factors or circumstances

How much notice is required to attend a disciplinary investigation?

An employee will be given at least 5 working days’ notice in writing of the requirement to attend a disciplinary hearing.

Does the employee have to attend?

An employee is required to engage in a disciplinary process as per the disciplinary statute. In the instance that an employee does not engage, it will be regarded as failure to follow a reasonable management instruction. 

The Head of School/Line Manager or nominee of the Director of Human Resources has the discretion to conduct the disciplinary investigation meeting in absentia and make a decision based on the information available to them if the employee fails to engage with the process.

Who is permitted to attend a disciplinary investigation?

The Disciplinary Statute permits the employee to be accompanied by a colleague of their choice, by a whole time official of a recognised trade union or a local trade union representative. The Head of School/Line Manager or nominee of the Director of Human Resources has the right to be accompanied by an appropriate HR Representative. 

In cases of potential termination of employment, an outcome will take longer than 10 working days to be issued due to the stage of consideration by the Director of Human Resources and the President. The employee will be updated, regarding the progress of the process.

What happens if an employee’s representative cannot attend the disciplinary meeting?

The employee will be given at least 5 working days’ notice to attend the disciplinary investigation meeting which should allow sufficient time to avail of a representative. If the employees first preference of who they would like to accompany them is not available, they should try to arrange for someone else to attend. The employee may request an adjournment provided they have an objective justification as to why that representative should accompany them along with documentary evidence to support that the person is not available. The Head of School/Line Manager or nominee of the Director of Human Resources has the right to refuse the request for an adjournment at their discretion.

What if the employee is not satisfied with the person appointed to hear the disciplinary?

In this instance, an employee should write to the Head of School/Line Manager or nominee of the Director of Human Resources and explain why they feel that the person appointed is not suitable. Only in situations where a direct conflict of interest has been established will Human Resources in conjunction with the appropriate line management consider the appointment of an alternative individual to conduct the disciplinary process.

What are the possible outcomes following the disciplinary investigation meeting?

Possible outcomes in accordance with the disciplinary stature include, 

  1. No disciplinary action is warranted;
  2. Verbal warning, written warning, final written warning;
  3. Deferral of an increment for the period of the incremental cycle;
  4. Reducing the employee to a specified lower grade or rank on a temporary or permanent basis or,
  5. Dismissal.

What is the role of the Line Manager/ Head of School in the Disciplinary Statute?

The role of the Line Manager/Head of School, when appointed to a disciplinary process, is to ensure that the employee is given a fair hearing.

In accordance with the Statute, the Line Manager/Head of School can be the employee’s direct Line Manager, or it can be a level of seniority above. 

For academic staff, this function will be carried out by the relevant Head of School, College Principal and then the President or Director of Human Resources.

What is the role of the Human Resource Director in the Disciplinary Statute?

The Human Resource Director (HRD) may be involved in any stage of the disciplinary process depending on the circumstances, however ordinarily, involvement in the process is only where the sanction is potentially dismissal.

In cases of potential dismissal, the line manager, or appropriate nominee will arrange a disciplinary investigation meeting. The line manager will then make a recommendation to the HRD as whether they consider the allegation to be a serious infringement or act of potential gross misconduct. 

If the HRD considers that disciplinary is warranted, they will provide the employee with; all of the probative material, a statement of potential penalty and a copy of the disciplinary statute. The employee will be required to respond in writing, within 10 working days. The employee has the right to request a meeting with the HRD. This request should be made in the employees written response.  The HRD will take all of the information into consideration and make a recommendation to the President as to an appropriate level of sanction.

What is the role of the President in Disciplinary Statute?

In the case of potential dismissal, the President is required to review the recommendation of the Director of Human Resources, or nominee following the disciplinary process and any representations made by the employee. Following due consideration of all the relevant information, the President will make a decision and issue in writing to the employee and the Director of Human Resources.  The President has the right to uphold the recommendation of the Director of Human Resources, impose another sanction in accordance with the Statute or decide that no disciplinary sanction should be imposed.

When does a disciplinary sanction take effect?

In accordance with the Statute, a formal warning, a deferral of an increment, reduction to a lower grade or dismissal will be imposed at the conclusion of the disciplinary process.

How long will a warning be retained on file?

  • A verbal warning will be retained on an employee’s personnel file for 6 months, subject to satisfactory improvement.
  • A written warning or a final written warning will be retained on an employee’s personnel file for 12 months, subject to satisfactory improvement.

What does gross misconduct mean?

Gross misconduct is defined in the Statute as a serious breach of the University’s rules and procedures or of recognised accepted standards of behaviour which results in a breakdown of the relationship of trust and confidence between the University and the employee concerned.

Gross misconduct is the most serious of allegations that can be made and can result in the termination of employment.  

See examples in the Disciplinary Statute

What is a fact-finding investigation?

A fact-finding investigation will ordinarily be initiated when there is an allegation of gross misconduct. It will involve gathering witness statements, documentation and the respondent’s response to the allegation/s.  The employee under investigation will be informed that an investigation is taking place and they will also be provided with any documentation gathered during the investigation.

What are terms of reference?

Terms of reference provide information that govern the scope of the process for an investigation. The investigator will provide the employee with a copy of the terms of reference from the outset of the investigation.

How long does a fact-finding investigation take?

Every situation is different, however, it is  not envisioned that a fact-finding investigation will take more than 40 working days after being commissioned by the Director of Human Resources. In certain circumstances, the timeline may be extended with the permission of the Director of Human Resources in order to ensure fair process.

If an employee is dismissed, what notice are they entitled to?

If an employee is dismissed for gross misconduct, they are not entitled to receive notice of termination. The effective date of dismissal will be the date that the decision to dismiss is communicated to them.

If an employee is dismissed for reasons other than gross misconduct, then the employee will receive notice as per their contract of employment. The effective date of dismissal will be the data that the notice period expires. 

In what circumstance will an employee be suspended?

In certain limited cases, an employee may be placed on paid suspension pending the conclusion of an investigation and/or a disciplinary process. Although not always the case, an employee will usually be placed on paid suspension when an allegation of gross misconduct has been made. 

A period of suspension does not infer any wrongdoing and does not prejudice the outcome of the process.

How will an employee be placed on suspension?

The employee will be informed that a serious allegation has be made against them and that suspension may be warranted. The employee will be required to attend a suspension hearing. The reasons why suspension is being considered will be explained and the employee will be given the opportunity to respond to this. Following the hearing, the seriousness of the allegation/s will be considered, and a decision will be made. The employee will be informed in writing on the decision.

Can an employee appeal the decision to suspend?

There is no right to appeal the decision to suspend. As any suspension under the Disciplinary Statute is paid, it is not punitive action. The decision to suspension will be kept under review.

Can an employee make contact with their colleagues during a period of suspension?

During any period of suspension, an employee is not permitted to make contact with employees or students regarding University business or matters relating to their suspension, without the prior written consent of the University.

An employee has been suspended and they feel that they need to have access their email/files in order to help them respond to the allegations.

In this instance, an employee should write to the Head of School/Line Manager or nominee of the Director of Human Resources and explain what they need access to and why. If it is deemed necessary, supervised access will be allowed.

Does the employee have to accept the outcome of the disciplinary investigation meeting? 

An employee has the right to appeal the decision if they are not satisfied with the outcome. 

All appeals must be submitted in writing within 10 working days of the date of the written outcome.

How does an employee lodge an appeal?

If an employee is appealing a formal warning, deferral of an increment for the period of the incremental cycle or reducing the employee to a specified lower grade or rank on a temporary or permanent basis, then the appeal needs to be submitted in writing to the Human Resource Director (HRD) within 10 working days of the communication of the decision concerned. The appeal should clearly set out the reasons for why it is believed there are grounds for appeal.

If an employee is appealing a decision to dismiss them from employment, then the employee needs to submit their appeal in writing to the Disciplinary Appeal Board within 10 working days of notification of that decision to the employee concerned.

The appeal can be sent by email or by post. The employee should keep a copy of their written appeal along with a record of the date and time that it was sent.

What happens once an appeal is submitted? (For sanctions other than dismissal)

Where an appeal of a sanction (other than dismissal) is submitted, the Human Resource Director, or nominee, will proceed to convene an appeal hearing. The appeal hearing will be scheduled within 28 working days from the date that the notification of appeal was filed. Once the appeal hearing takes place, a decision will be issued within 10 working days.

What happens once an appeal of a decision to dismiss is submitted?

When an employee appeals to the Disciplinary Appeals Board, the following submissions will be required;

  • A written statement prepared by the employee outlining the reasons for their grounds of appeal sent to the Appeals Board and to the Human Resource Director (HRD), or nominee. This needs to be sent within 10 working days of when they notified the board of their intention to appeal. 
  • The Human Resource Director, or nominee is required to submit in writing, a response to the Appeals Board and to the employee, within 10 working days of receipt of the employee’s appeal statement.
  • The board may request further submissions from the employee, the Human Resource Director, or nominee, if they see fit to do so.   
  • Once the board has considered the submission from the employee and the Human Resource Director , or nominee, they will set a date for the appeal hearing, which will take place within 30 working days from the date that notification of the appeal. The Appeals Board may set a hearing date later than this depending on the circumstances.  
  • The Appeals Board will make a decision within 10 working days of the conclusion of the appeal hearing and communicate the decision to the employee, the Human Resource Director, or nominee and the employee’s representative, if applicable.

What is the Disciplinary Appeals Board?

The Disciplinary Appeals Board is appointed to hear any appeal of a decision to dismiss an employee. They are an independently appointed by the Governing Authority. The panel comprises a Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and a panel of independent external experts

What if an employee submits an appeal outside of the 10-working days timeframe?

All employees are required to submit their appeals within the 10-working days limit. An appeal submitted outside of this timeframe will not be heard.

Who will be appointed to the board of appeals?

The Appeal Board will be appointed by the Governing Authority, and will comprises a Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson, and panel of independent external experts.

What happens if an employee is not satisfied with the appointment of a member of the Appeals Board?

In this instance, an employee should write to the Chairperson of the Appeal Board outlining why they believe that the person appointed is not suitable. Only in situations where a direct conflict of interest has been established will the Chairperson of the Board in conjunction with the Governing authority, consider the appointment of an alternative person to the Appeals Board.  

What happens if an employee is not happy with the outcome of the appeal?

The decision of the appeal is final.

What are the possible outcomes of an appeal process?

Possible outcomes of an appeal process include;

a) Appeal is upheld

The Appeal in this instance agrees with the ground(s) of appeal and can make a finding of a lesser sanction or a finding that no disciplinary sanction should have been issued in the first place. 

Where the finding is that no sanction should have been issued, the sanction will be removed from the employee’s record. If the employee was dismissed, re-graded or had an increment deferred, they will be reinstated back into their role and retrospectively paid any salary owed to them.

b) Appeal is not upheld

The Appeal agrees with the original decision that was made.

c) A procedural flaw

The appeal may find that there was a procedural flaw during the investigation or disciplinary process and order that this be rectified before a decision be made. 

Can witnesses be met with?

The Head of School/Line Manager or nominee of the Director of Human Resources has full discretion to meet with any witnesses that they feel are relevant.  An employee has the right to suggest a witness for consideration, however the decision rests with the Head of School/Line Manager or nominee of the Director of Human Resources as to whether that person is relevant to the disciplinary investigation.

Do witnesses have to attend a disciplinary meeting if called?

Employees are required to engage with the process where it has been deemed relevant to record their statement. Employees should give a truthful account of any incident they have witnessed or information they may have.

Who can a witness bring to a meeting?

Witnesses can be accompanied by a colleague of their choice, by a whole time official of a recognised trade union or a Local Trade Union Representative.  It is not appropriate to be accompanied by anyone that is directly involved in the matter of concern.

Who is available for support during a disciplinary investigation process? 

It is important that the process is kept confidential, which means that the matter should not be discussed with colleagues, however, supports are available from Trade Union representatives and Human Resources, who can advise on the process.

The Inspire Employee Assistance Service (EAS) is completely free for UCD employees and their immediate family members and provides a wide range of services and resources that will help to support your wellbeing, both in and outside of the workplace. More information on the EAS can be found here UCD Employee Assistance Service