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.
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?
- How to deal with workers’ statutory right to be accompanied at disciplinary and grievance hearings
- Letter inviting an employee to attend a disciplinary hearing
- 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?
- Is there any right to legal representation at a disciplinary hearing?
- What is the companion’s role at a disciplinary or grievance hearing?
- Can an employer invite an employee to attend a disciplinary hearing when he or she is on sick leave?
- Procedure in the event of an employee going off sick during a disciplinary process
- What should an employer do if an employee fails to attend a disciplinary hearing?
- How to deal with the situation when an employee fails to attend a meeting under a disciplinary process
- When an employee who is subject to disciplinary proceedings raises a grievance, must the employer put the disciplinary proceedings on hold?
- How to handle grievances raised during disciplinary procedures
3. Ensure that someone who is not involved in the case is appointed to take notes on the proceedings.
4. Outline the procedure to be followed during the hearing and introduce the parties taking part.
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?
7. Conclude the hearing or adjourn it if new matters are raised that need investigating.
- 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.
- Task: Inform the employee of the outcome of a disciplinary hearing
- Letter giving an employee a first written warning
- Letter giving an employee a final written warning
- Letter confirming a disciplinary sanction other than a warning or dismissal
- Letter following a disciplinary hearing informing the employee that no disciplinary penalty will be imposed
- Letter confirming the dismissal of an employee for misconduct
- Letter to an employee confirming his or her dismissal for gross misconduct
- Letter to an employee confirming his or her dismissal for persistent short-term absences
- 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?