Eight things to consider when handling disciplinary appeals

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Providing employees with the opportunity to appeal against a disciplinary decision is an important part of a fair disciplinary procedure.

While there is no statutory right to appeal a disciplinary penalty, it is included in the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures and so should be applied where any formal disciplinary action is taken.

We take a look at eight things you need to consider when handling disciplinary appeals:

1. If the employer does not follow an appeals procedure that forms part of the contract of employment, it will be a breach of contract.

What are the pros and cons of making a disciplinary procedure contractual?

2. The right of appeal needs to be applied consistently in disciplinary cases so as to avoid discrimination claims.

Why is it important for employers to have clear disciplinary rules and procedures?

Model discipline policy

3. Tribunals take into account the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures – which includes recommendations about appeals against disciplinary penalties – when considering relevant cases.

What are the possible consequences of failing to follow the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures?

Is there a specific timescale for holding a disciplinary appeal hearing?

Is there a set timescale for the lodging of appeals against disciplinary decisions?

Letter informing an employee that his or her appeal against the outcome of a disciplinary hearing or appeal hearing has been submitted out of time

On what grounds can an employee appeal a disciplinary decision?

Is an employee required to submit an appeal against a disciplinary decision in writing?

How should the employer respond if an employee appeals a disciplinary decision but does not set out the grounds for the appeal?

4. Employers should aim to have the appeal heard by a manager who is more senior than the one who dealt with the original disciplinary hearing.

Who should conduct a disciplinary appeal hearing?

Task: Prepare for a disciplinary appeal hearing

5.Workers have the right to be accompanied at a disciplinary appeal hearing.

Do employees have the right to be accompanied to a disciplinary appeal hearing?

Task: Invite an employee to a disciplinary appeal hearing

Letter inviting an employee to attend a disciplinary appeal hearing

6. If the employee fails to attend the appeal hearing, the employer should investigate the reasons for this and rearrange where appropriate.

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

Can an employer invite an employee to attend a disciplinary hearing when he or she is on sick leave?

7. The general rules of fairness and natural justice should be applied to the appeal hearing.

Can a disciplinary sanction be increased as a result of an appeal hearing?

8. The employer should consider a number of options if it upholds the appeal.

Task: Make a decision on a disciplinary appeal

What options does an employer have where it upholds an appeal?

Letter informing an employee of the outcome of a disciplinary appeal hearing

What happens to an employee’s continuity of service if he or she is dismissed but reinstated on appeal?

Where an employee is dismissed but reinstated on appeal, should he or she be paid for the time between the dismissal and the successful appeal?

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