Consistency in decision making

03 Jan 2018

Changes to discipline decision-making procedure and guidance for gross and serious misconduct.

Consistency in decision making

Changes have been introduced to disciplinary procedure and guidance, following consultation with PCS, to support better consistency in decision making on gross and serious misconduct cases. The changes specify that in all cases where the level of misconduct is gross or serious, decision makers must consult CSHR Casework (referred to in the guidance as an HR Expert) to discuss an appropriate penalty. Amendments have been implemented from 18 December 2017 for:

  • Discipline Procedures – paragraphs 9, 29, 53, 58, 72 & all references to ‘HR Expert’ have been amended
  • How to assess misconduct and decide a penalty – paragraph 16 & all references to ‘HR Expert’
  • HR Decision Makers’ guide – para 3.3
  • Discipline Decision Makers’ template – in 3 sections
  • Decision Making and Disciplinary Procedures Open Learning – main change Q17 but also minor amendments to update terminology etc.

HR Decision Makers Guide

The HR Decision Makers Guide defines and explains consistency for decision making under paragraphs 3.2 and 3.3. Paragraph 3.3 has been amended to include a new Note:

3.2 Your decisions must be consistent with policy and comply with procedures to ensure they are lawful, reasonable and fair. However, consistency must not be confused with uniformity. Decision making which aims to produce identical outcomes can be fundamentally unfair when making a decision in an individual employee’s case. In disciplinary cases, for example, ‘consistency’ does not necessarily mean that the same penalty must be applied in every instance of the same act of misconduct – it means that the same procedure must be applied and the same thought process gone through in addressing similar instances of the same misconduct.

3.3 Consistency in decision making may include an outcome which differs from the norm where justified in the individual circumstances of that case. The penalty to be applied in disciplinary cases is decided according to the circumstances of the matter and the personal circumstances of the employee, including matters such as previous disciplinary record and other mitigating and extenuating circumstances. The act of misconduct may therefore be the same, the evidence may even be the same or similar in two separate incidents of the same misconduct, but the circumstances can differ vastly, and may provide a valid reason and justification for different treatment.

Note: You must consult an HR Expert (0845 241 5352) to discuss an appropriate penalty in all discipline cases where the level of misconduct is serious or gross. This is to ensure that penalties issued for misconduct are consistent across the department.

DWP Discipline Procedure

Discipline Procedure 9 has been amended to include:

The Decision Maker must consult an HR Expert (0845 241 5352) to discuss an appropriate penalty in all cases where the level of misconduct is serious or gross. This is to ensure that penalties issued for misconduct are consistent across the department.

Disclosure of CSHR Casework Advice

CS HR Casework Advice will continue to be disclosed when requested as confirmed under the Civil Service HR Casework FAQs published on the DWP intranet.  Civil Service HR Casework

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) 13 states:

13. Can I share the actual advice given by CSHR Casework with any other parties i.e. TU Rep has requested the information as they are representing a MOS in a personal case?

Yes, but the CSHR Casework reference number must be removed before sharing.

Advice for branches

Managers should share CS HR Casework advice and be willing to obtain clarification from the Casework Team in cases where it is reasonable to do so. Where decisions differ from advice provided the standards in the HR Decision Makers Guide must also be applied to explain and justify the decision. Where local attempts to address a problem have been unsuccessful, cases should be reported to Group Office where there has been:

  • Perverse misapplication of CS HR Casework Advice, or
  • CS HR Casework Advice inconsistent with DWP Policy, Procedure and Advice, or
  • Refusal to disclose CS HR Casework Advice

PCS will continue to consult with DWP during 2018 for improved openness and transparency.      

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