Justice and fairness in the workplace: a disciplinary case analysis in the UK public sector

Harvie, W.G., 2020. Justice and fairness in the workplace: a disciplinary case analysis in the UK public sector. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates justice and fairness in the UK public sector when formal disciplinary procedures are invoked.

The golden thread of justice and fairness in the workplace addresses the following questions:-

1. What types and scale of workplace disciplinary transgressions exhibit in the UK public sector, and are demographics relevant?

2. How the Host employer processes disciplinary cases and what are the experiences at this and other bodies of the parties involved, employees, trade unions, managers, HR, and politicians, and what improvements could be made?

The initial phase comprised a five year longitudinal study of a public sector employer’s disciplinary records, and compared employee demographics with workforce characteristics of which they formed a part. It is unique in being purely case-based, and unlike much research does not conflate grievance and disciplinary cases. Employee demographics of age, gender, tenure and absence show statistically significant linkages to a propensity to commit serious breaches of contract resulting in a formal disciplinary investigation. In the case of gender, evidence strongly points to it being generalizable.

The concluding qualitative phase found isolated examples of 'good' practice, but also serious inconsistencies and lapses by employers. Three key concepts emerged. Structural Differentiation where disciplinary criteria were being applied differently across the same employer; Hierarchical Differentiation where senior management interpreted and applied policies in favour of themselves; and Boundary Conditions where gatekeeping decisions are made whether to invoke formal procedures. These Boundary Condition failures saw unimaginable harm being meted out to victims of child sexual abuse, with innumerable employee, service and society implications.

This work tasks Human Resource professionals to be more proactive in constructively using the wealth of data metrics at their disposal, so as to avoid unnecessary investigations, and challenges them along with management to remove impediments to achieving equitable justice and fairness in the workplace.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Harvie, W.G.
Date: July 2020
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed in the owner of the Intellectual Property Rights.
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 15 Oct 2020 13:51
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2020 13:51
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/41324

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