Legal and governance training and consultancy
for the voluntary sector

Ch.1: Setting up an organisation
Ch.2: Unincorporated organisations
Ch.3: Incorporated organisations
Ch.4: Charitable status, charity law & regulation
Ch.5: The organisation's objects
Ch.6: The organisation's name
Ch.7: The governing document
Ch.8: Registering as a charity
Ch.9: Branches, subsidiaries & group structures
Ch.10: Changing legal form
Ch.11: Collaborative working, partnerships and mergers
Ch.12: Members of the organisation
Ch.13: Members of the governing body
Ch.14: Officers, committees & sub-committees
Ch.15: Duties & powers of the governing body
Ch.16: Restrictions on payments & benefits
Ch.17: The registered office & other premises
Ch.18: Communication & paperwork
Ch.19: Meetings, resolutions & decision making
Ch.20: Assets & agency
Ch.21: Contracts & contract law
Ch.22: Risk & liability
Ch.23: Insurance
Ch.24: Financial difficulties & winding up
Ch.25: Employees & other workers
Ch.26: Rights, duties & the contract of employment
Ch.27: Model contract of employment
Ch.28: Equal opportunities in employment
Ch.29: Taking on new employees
Ch.30: Pay & pensions
Ch.31: Working time, time off & leave
Ch.32: Rights of parents & carers
Ch.34: Termination of employment
Ch.35: Redundancy
Ch.36: Employer-employee relations
Ch.37: Employment claims & settlement
Ch.38: Self employed & other contractors
Ch.39: Volunteers
Ch.40: Health & safety
Ch.41: Safeguarding children & vulnerable adults
Ch.42: Equal opportunities: goods, services & facilities
Ch.43: Data protection & use of information
Ch.44: Intellectual property
Ch.45: Publications, publicity & the internet
Ch.46: Campaigning & political activities
Ch.47: Public events, entertainment & licensing
Ch.48: Funding & fundraising: General rules
Ch.49: Fundraising activities
Ch.50: Tax-effective giving
Ch.51: Trading & social enterprise
Ch.52: Contracts & service agreements
Ch.53: Financial procedures & security
Ch.54: Annual accounts, reports & returns
Ch.55: Auditors & independent examiners
Ch.56: Corporation tax, income tax & capital gains tax
Ch.57: Value added tax
Ch.58: Investment & reserves
Ch.59: Borrowing
Ch.60: Land ownership & tenure
Ch.61: Acquiring & disposing of property
Ch.62: Business leases
Ch.63: Property management & the environment
Ch.64: How the law works
Ch.65: Dispute resolution & litigation

This page contains information that has appeared on Sandy Adirondack's legal update website for voluntary organisations at For current updates, including potential changes that are in the pipeline, see the legal update website.

These websites for each chapter update the 3rd edition of The Russell-Cooke Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook by James Sinclair Taylor and the Charity Team at Russell-Cooke Solicitors, edited by Sandy Adirondack (Directory of Social Change, 2009). The websites are not intended as a comprehensive update and should not be treated as such.

To order a copy of The Russell-Cooke Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook, print out the order form at or send an email order by clicking . It costs £60 for voluntary organisations or £90 for others, plus 10% p&p.

To avoid spamming, an email address is not given on screen. If you can't see the word 'here' or have trouble sending an email by clicking on it, the address is bookservice at, with the spaces and 'at' replaced by the @ symbol.

The information here covers the law applicable to England and Wales. It may not apply in Northern Ireland and/or Scotland. These news items are not a full or definitive statement of the law and are not intended as a substitute for professional legal advice. No responsibility for loss occasioned as a result of any person acting or refraining from acting can be taken by the author.

Chapter 33

The items below formerly appeared on the legal update website for voluntary organisations and are archived here. The content may be out of date and links may not work. For current updates to the chapter, see the legal update website for voluntary organisations at


Updated 7/7/12; link updated 30/3/13. This information is included in s.33.2.1 in The Russell-Cooke Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook (VSLH3).
Following the government's "red tape challenge" on employment-related regulations in October 2011, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills held a call for evidence from 15 March to 8 June 2012 on whether the current Acas code of practice on discipline and grievance, which came into effect after statutory disciplinary and grievance procedures were abolished in April 2009, could be adapted to make it easier to use and more accessible to small businesses.

The 2009 Acas code, and more detailed guidance updated in April 2011, can both be downloaded via


Updated 15/6/09. This information is included in s.33.2.1 in The Russell-Cooke Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook (VSLH3).
For disciplinary and grievance procedures triggered on or after 6 April 2009, the previous statutory procedures are replaced by an ACAS code of practice on discipline and grievance, setting out the basic principles of good practice. It does not have force of law and failure to comply with it is not in itself unlawful. However an employer's unreasonable failure to comply with the code can be taken into account by the employment tribunal and can lead to an increase of up to 25% in any award made by the tribunal, and an employee’s failure to comply can lead to a reduction of up to 25% in any award.

In practice the three stages of the statutory disciplinary and grievance procedures still remain under the new code (written notice, meeting, right of appeal) but without the detailed rigid requirements that could lead to an employer or employee being penalised for a technical breach of the procedures.

The intention of the new procedures is that disciplinary and grievance issues should, if possible, be dealt with through informal discussion. If this is unsuccessful, the key elements in a fair and transparent procedure are defined as dealing with issues promptly, acting consistently, carrying out an investigation to establish the facts, informing the employee of the issue, ensuring the employee can put their case at a disciplinary or grievance meeting before any decisions are made, ensuring the employee has the right to be accompanied, and ensuring the employee’s right to appeal against any formal decision.

Dismissals for a disciplinary reasons should follow the code, but failure to follow it does not make the dismissal automatically unfair as it was under the statutory procedures. The code does not apply to redundancy dismissals, termination of fixed-term contracts, or retirement dismissals.

The code's section on keys to handling disciplinary issues provides guidance on investigations and who should conduct them, the sort of information employees should be provided with before any disciplinary meetings, the role of a companion, gross misconduct, dismissals, and appeals. All parties have an obligation to make every effort to attend disciplinary meetings. In some situations expired disciplinary warnings can be taken into effect (see expired warnings). One change from the statutory procedures is that the employer must inform employees of their right to be accompanied by a companion.

Another significant change from the statutory procedures is that disciplinary warnings have to be dealt with procedurally in the same way as dismissals, which means there must be provision for appeal against a warning.

The keys to handling grievances state that employees should raise grievances formally in writing, without undue delay, with their line manager if they have a concern that cannot be resolved informally. It is made clear that a grievance meeting can be adjourned if an investigation is necessary. The employer's decision has to be in writing, and employees have to appeal if they are not satisfied with the decision, rather than going direct to the tribunal.

Unlike under the statutory procedures it is no longer necessary for an employee to go through a grievance procedure before bringing a claim in the employment tribunal, but failure to do so could be held to be unreasonable and could lead to a decrease of up to 25% in any award to the employee.

The code includes sections on overlapping grievance and disciplinary cases and on collective grievances.

The final version of the code was approved by Parliament on 12 March 2009 and is at
The final version of ACAS's guidance, which is more detailed than the code, is at
Further information, including details of extended opening hours from April for the ACAS helpline and the increased emphasis on mediation as a way to solve workplace disputes, is at

The Employment Act 2008, which brings in the new provisions, is at

Go to archived items about termination of employment (VSLH3 chapter 34)


Added 17/12/13. This information updates s.33.5 in The Russell-Cooke Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook (VSLH3).
Public Concern at Work, a charity which provides information and advice about all aspects of whistleblowing, set up an independent commission of industry and academic experts in February 2013 to review the effectiveness of whistleblowing in UK workplaces. Following a public consultation, it published its report and 25 recommendations on 27 November 2013.

The recommendations include:

  • the code of practice drawn up by the whistleblowing commission should be adopted by the secretary of state and should be taken into account by courts and tribunals when whistleblowing issues arise;
  • regulators should require or encourage the adoption of this code of practice by those they regulate;
  • regulators should be more transparent about their own whistleblowing arrangements and should report annually on their operations;
  • anti-gagging provisions in the law should be strengthened;
  • the legal protection for whistleblowers in the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) should be strengthened;
  • the PIDA definition of worker should be broadened to include student nurses, doctors, social workers and health care workers; volunteers and interns; priests; foster carers; non-executive directors; public appointments; members of limited liability partnerships; and all categories of workers listed under the Equality Act 2010.
The full report and a summary can be accessed on the Public Concern at Work website via For more about whistleblowing see Changes to whistleblowing law, above.


Added 2/4/10. This information updates s.33.5 in The Russell-Cooke Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook (VSLH3).
A worker who is dismissed or victimised, or a former worker who is victimised, for making a "protected disclosure" (whistleblowing) under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 can bring a claim against the employer.

In whistleblowing cases the tribunal looks only at whether the worker complied with the rules under the Act about what can be disclosed and who it can be disclosed to, and whether the worker was victimised or dismissed because of the disclosure. The tribunal does not look at the substance of the disclosure itself.

From 6 April 2010, the ET1 claim form has a tick box for the worker to indicate whether s/he wants the tribunal to pass details of the protected disclosure to the relevant regulator(s) so the substance of it can, if appropriate, be investigated. Regulators could include, for example, the Charity Commission, Health and Safety Executive or Environment Agency. Various confidentiality options will be available.

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