Invitation to informal discussion about conduct or behaviour

Written with our partners at:Wilkes logo

What’s an invitation to an informal discussion about conduct or behaviour and when do you need it?

This is the first letter in any disciplinary proceedings – before you activate the formal process. You're not obliged to send it, and you could proceed directly to the formal process – however, since disciplinary discussions can often lead to an employee feeling defensive, having an informal chat first is a step that our expert partners recommend you consider.

If your concerns about an employee’s conduct or behaviour are relatively minor, it may be more effective to deal with them informally in the first instance. You may be able to resolve matters there and then, without having to resort to your formal disciplinary procedure.

The kinds of activities that often give rise to this first step include poor attendance and timekeeping, unauthorised absence from work, being careless when carrying out work, time wasting, behaving offensively, making an excessive number of personal phone calls on business phones and unauthorised use of business equipment or property.

Take care when it comes to poor work performance, however, as this generally should not be treated as misconduct and/or a disciplinary matter. Things like breaching works rules, or various other forms of improper behaviour, are obviously correct to categorise as misconduct.

If your concern is more about the output of an employee’s work and its poor quality, you should take a look at our suite of performance-related letters.

You should only use this suite of materials in relation to employees.

If you were to apply your disciplinary proceedings, to someone who is not an employee, or to treat them in an equivalent manner, this could lead inadvertently to an employment tribunal concluding that that individual does, in fact, have employment status – which would include the enhanced rights attaching to such status.

It would be better to seek specific advice on how to handle anyone whose behaviour is a problem but who is not an employee.