Employee conduct: NHSScotland PIN policy

This Partnership Information Network (PIN) policy is not in use after 1 March 2020. Policies in force after 1 March 2020 are on https://workforce.nhs.scot/policies

This document is part of a collection

1 Introduction

1.1 The purpose of this Partnership Information Network (PIN) policy on the management of employee conduct is to set a minimum standard and to provide a model of current best practice which can be developed in partnership at a local level to create policies to support the management of matters of employee conduct. Such local policies should be developed and agreed by the appropriate partnership forum and jointly reviewed on a regular basis. Alternative approaches are not precluded provided that they are based upon the best practice principles outlined in this policy. The ultimate decision about a Board's approach must be developed in a fully inclusive manner to ensure that the required changes in organisational culture, behaviour and attitude are achieved.

1.2 Employees are expected to adhere to acceptable standards of conduct in the course of their employment. Where such standards are not met, a formal process should only be followed where there is no other alternative.

1.3 This PIN policy is designed to promote fairness and consistency in the treatment of all employees, in compliance with Boards' obligations under the NHSScotland Staff Governance Standard6.

1.4 This PIN policy is also designed to clarify the rights and responsibilities of Boards, managers, employees and trade unions/professional organisations in respect of employees who become liable for disciplinary action resulting from misconduct relating to their employment.

1.5 This PIN policy applies in the case of issues of conduct. It does not apply in the case of issues of capability, which are separately covered under the Management of Employee Capability PIN Policy7 (or Managing Health at Work PIN Policy8 in the case of issues of capability related to ill health impacting on attendance).

1.6 However, it is recognised that it may not be clear at the outset whether a matter is one of conduct or capability, and therefore it may be that the approach to be followed requires to be changed in the course of managing such matters.

1.7 This PIN policy does not apply in the case of employees who are unable to undertake their contracted role as a result of the following:

  • Loss of eligibility to work in the UK;
  • Disqualification from driving as a result of a driving offence;
  • Criminal convictions;
  • Barring from undertaking regulated work; or
  • Loss/suspension of professional registration.

While this PIN policy would apply separately in the case of any associated conduct issues, decisions specifically in relation to those areas identified above would not be made on the basis of conduct (or capability), but rather on the basis of 'some other substantial reason'. The procedure to be followed, therefore, in the case of the latter, (where dismissal has not already previously resulted in relation to any associated conduct issues) is as set out within the Safer Pre and Post Employment Checks PIN Policy9.

1.8 This PIN policy applies to all directly employed staff, including bank/temporary staff and NHSScotland staff on secondment. It applies to all medical and dental staff employed by Boards in cases of personal misconduct (as defined in NHS Circular 1990 (PCS)810). It does not apply to matters concerning the professional conduct or competence of medical and dental staff, which are covered by national agreements as set out in section 10.1.1 and 10.4.1 of the 2004 Terms and Conditions of Service for Consultants11, or for other grades as set out in the following circulars: NHS Circular 1990 (PCS)812, as amended by NHS Circular 1990 (PCS)3213, PCS(DD)1994/1114, PCS(DD)1999/715, PCS(DD)2001/0916 and MEL 1993/149 (Annex B - Paragraph 9) 17. NHS Circular 1990 (PCS)8 (and subsequently PCS(DD)2001/09) sets out the distinction between issues of personal conduct and those related to professional conduct or competence. In the case of doctors in training, Boards should also refer to the NHS Education for Scotland Doctors in Difficulty Policy18.

1.9 In the case of conduct or capability issues relating to staff groups who require to be professionally registered, Boards will have in place mechanisms to ensure that relevant statutory regulatory bodies are informed, as appropriate, where such issues arise. Decisions in relation to ongoing professional registration as a result of such issues will be for the relevant statutory regulatory body to determine. However, Boards' local policies developed in line with this PIN policy (or the Management of Employee Capability PIN Policy) will apply in relation to those conduct (or capability) issues in so far as they relate to an individual's employment within a Board.

1.10 The NHSScotland Code of Conduct for Healthcare Support Workers details the mandatory standards for how Healthcare Support Workers should work on a day-to-day basis and the Code of Practice for Employers of Healthcare Support Workers sets out standards for Boards based on existing good employer practice. Under the terms of CEL 23 (2010) 19 and any future Directions incorporating amendments to it, all employed or engaged Healthcare Support Workers (as defined by the CEL) should be treated fairly and consistently by Boards with regard to conduct matters covered by the Code of Conduct. All Healthcare Support Workers must comply with the Code of Conduct and Boards must comply with the Code of Practice. Boards must not continue to employ a Healthcare Support Worker who continually fails to comply with the Code of Conduct despite adequate training and support. Boards' local policies developed in line with this PIN policy should be applied in such cases, where such a failure to comply is identified as a matter of conduct. Where such a failure to comply is identified as a matter of capability, Boards' local policies developed in line with the Management of Employee Capability PIN Policy will apply.

1.11 This PIN policy complements the 'ACAS Code of Practice - Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures'20 as revised on 6th April 2009.


Email: Darren Paterson

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