If you do discipline or ultimately dismiss an employee then try to document all you can and ensure that the employee in question has a witness and is fully aware that it is a disciplinary matter. Investigate fully and get witness statements, if necessary. Carrying out a full grievance procedure became law in April 2003, and employers and employees are required to meet and discuss the situation prior to any action being taken. For dismissal it may also be worth adopting a soft approach to avoid claims. Mace & Jones' employment law partner Emlyn Williams says a practice has developed, whereby employers are offering to make a contribution to employees legal fees at the termination of employment. “If properly drafted it can deal with any particular complaints an employee has. But it should refer to 'specific complaints'. However, companies often adopt a blanket approach, which could leave them open to claims.” Advice should be taken for every case and companies should avoid merely reproducing the first precedent. It’s always worth assuming someone will file for constructive dismissal if they resign. Collect all the information relating to employment history, whether a grievance procedure was ever started, any claims of victimisation, whether a disciplinary procedure began or did the person get a bad appraisal? Even ask other employees why they think the person left. You may find something out and if nothing else it shows you care. Remember they have three months to apply, by which time it could be cold in your memory.

If you have done all of this and a claim is still made against you then you have 21 days to respond. Gather the facts and any witness statements. This includes copies of written warnings, terms and conditions, contract of employment, your take on gross misconduct, a record of disciplinary procedures and make sure the contract of employment was signed.