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Disciplinary Procedures


Tales of the Unexpected

Salon owners often ask me about a “typical disciplinary situation” to in some way check the are adequately prepared if it happened in their Salon. Unfortunately, every situation is unique and “predictably” is certainly not a word I would use to describe disciplinary events. Indeed over recent months I have dealt with disciplinary situations which would certainly be called “unusual”.

The only preparation is to ensure you have a disciplinary procedure which works to your advantage and you have access to advice.

Disciplinary incidents often occur out of the blue and are discovered by chance. Here are a few such examples that have occurred in 2009 already.

One evening a Salon owner decided to go back to her salon to collect some stationery. To her surprise the alarm was not switched on and she discovered one of her therapists with a male friend in one of the treatment rooms.

The employee was suspended and during the investigation the therapist suggested her boyfriend had to collect her from work and one thing had lead to another.

Sadly, this didn’t really reflect the circumstances and interviews with other staff revealed this was a regular rendezvous. The therapist was dismissed. However, it is worth considering, when drafting the letter what have been the specific allegations?

I mentioned that disciplinary situations arise in unusual circumstances! A salon owner noted EBAY seemed to be on her “favourites” on the salon PC. A little detective work revealed one of the staff was an active seller but more concerning seemed to be the selling products stopped by the salon.

The owner decided to carry out an urgent stock take and found a stock shortfall.

Just to make sure; a friend purchased a product and it was proven that had come from the salon. This case could have gone wrong as the salon owner wanted to sack the employee immediately by telephone. This could have been a costly mistake as it is essential to have a disciplinary investigation and a hearing.

This case was unusual but the employee had been with the salon for over 15 years and was the last person the salon owner would have doubted.

It is unlikely that the above cases will ever be repeated, however, salon owners might well learn from the final case.

A salon owner was concerned that on some late night openings takings seemed less than expected. A couple of clients suggested they had tried to telephone but had difficulty getting through. As always there are a number of possible routes to investigate these types of incident. For example, to challenge the member of staff or to make a few surprise visits. However, in this case I recommend a more straightforward route of asking for a three month itemised salon phone bills.

This routine query was extremely helpful, over three months when this employee was in the salon alone, there are £45 of calls amounting to 7 hours all to the same mobile number. A phone call to the number revealed the identity i.e the therapists partner.

Clearly, the calls had not been reported or paid for and took place when she was at work. The implication was that the salon had lost income as she was unavailable to receive bookings.

It was then just a matter of their evening the disciplinary process was followed i.e suspensions, the investigation and the disciplinary hearing.

These incidents make interesting reading, in each case the Salon owner was stunned, none of the employees had ever been a moments problem and were totally trusted. The new ACAS Code of Practice for handling disciplinary issues allows no scope for employers to fail to follow their disciplinary procedure. However in such stressful situations with tears and possibly irate phone calls from family members it is easy to make a mistake.

At the outset i emphasised the importance of having a clear and well written disciplinary procedure. However clearly written ad understood salon rules can further strengthen your position.

In the above examples the following rules would have been useful

  • Staff must not enter or remain in the Salon after closing time without express permission.
  • Staff must not use the Salons PC for personal use without prior approval.
  • Staff must not use the Salons Telephone for personal use without prior approval. All calls must be paid for.

This months question

I have 7 staff in my salon but need to make one or two redundancies. Is last in first out an acceptable method of selection?

Historically, employers adopted this method (LIFO). However, I would not recommend this method as

  • It might well be that your newest staff are your most skilled and valuable.
  • LIFO is extremely dangerous as potentially it breaches the age discrimination laws as the newest employees are normally the youngest.

David Wright Personnel

Phone - 01302 563 691

Mobile - 07930 358 067