If, following an investigation, an employer decides that there is a disciplinary case for an employee to answer, then a disciplinary hearing should be arranged. It is important that the employee is given the chance to put his or her case forward in response to the allegations, and that a fair process is followed when preparing for, and conducting, the hearing.
Here, we set out a checklist for employers to follow to ensure that disciplinary hearings are conducted fairly.
1. Ensure that the basic principles of fairness are followed throughout the disciplinary procedure.
Is there a minimum disciplinary procedure that employers must follow?
2. Familiarise yourself with the principles in the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures.
What are the possible consequences of failing to follow the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures?
What is a "reasonable" request by a worker to be accompanied at a disciplinary or grievance hearing?
Who can be chosen as a companion at a disciplinary or grievance hearing?
What is the companion's role at a disciplinary or grievance hearing?
3. Ensure that someone who is not involved in the case is appointed to take notes on the proceedings.
Who should conduct a disciplinary hearing?
4. Outline the procedure to be followed during the hearing and introduce the parties taking part.
At the start of a disciplinary interview, what information should the interviewer give?
5. Set out the case against the employee.
6. Ask the employee questions to ascertain the facts of the case and allow him or her a full and fair opportunity to state his or her side of events, explain his or her conduct and state any mitigating factors.
Can a worker and union representative agree that the representative will answer all questions put to the worker at a disciplinary hearing?
Is an employee entitled to call witnesses at a disciplinary hearing?
Must an employer give an employee the chance to cross-examine witnesses at a disciplinary hearing?
How should a manager respond if an employee becomes argumentative or negative during a disciplinary interview?
What is the difference between an open and a closed disciplinary interview question?
7. Conclude the hearing or adjourn it if new matters are raised that need investigating.
How should a manager conclude a disciplinary interview?
What should the employer do if new evidence emerges after the conclusion of a disciplinary investigation, before the disciplinary procedure has been completed?
8. Weigh up the evidence and decide whether or not a disciplinary sanction is appropriate and, if so, what it should be.
What should an employer take into account in deciding if, and what, disciplinary action is merited?
Is an employer obliged to impose the same disciplinary action where two employees break the same rule?
Is there a set number of warnings that an employer must give an employee prior to dismissal?
9. Inform the employee of the decision, the reasons for it and his or her right to appeal.
Is there a set timescale for the lodging of appeals against disciplinary decisions?
On what grounds can an employee appeal a disciplinary decision?
Is an employee required to submit an appeal against a disciplinary decision in writing?
This checklist is based on XpertHR's guide to chairing a disciplinary hearing. If you are an XpertHR subscriber, you can view the full guide here.