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What is a disciplinary hearing?

Reading time: 3 mins

Carrie Tennick, February 11, 2020

Not everybody’s working life goes without a hitch. There will be times when issues crop up and things may get out of hand.

This is when you might find yourself scheduled in for a disciplinary hearing.

So what should your employer do to adhere to the rules and how can you prepare for a disciplinary meeting?

What is a disciplinary hearing?

According to the UK government, your employer can take formal disciplinary action against you if they are concerned about your work, conduct or absence.

They may try to raise their concerns informally with you before taking formal disciplinary action or dismissing you. But they are able to skip this and go straight to their formal procedures. These disciplinary meetings give you the chance to explain your perspective and defend yourself.

A disciplinary hearing could lead to formal action, including a warning, suspension without pay, demotion or even dismissal.

What should your employer do?

There are four things your employer is required to do to ensure a disciplinary hearing follows the rules. These are:

  • Send you a letter setting out the issue
  • Schedule a meeting to discuss the issue
  • Deliver a disciplinary decision
  • Offer you a chance to appeal this decision

Meanwhile Acas has explained that in order for a fair disciplinary process, a number of factors must be followed:

  • Employers and employees should raise and deal with issues quickly, without delaying meetings or decisions
  • Employers and employees should act consistently
  • Employers should carry out any necessary investigations to establish the facts
  • Employers should inform you of the basis of the problem and give you the opportunity respond before any decisions are made
  • Employers should allow employees to be accompanied at any formal meeting
  • Employers should allow you to appeal against any formal decision

If you have any questions about what your employer’s policy on disciplinary hearings is, take a look at your employment contract. This should set out what their requirements are and give you an insight into what you can do to prepare for this sort of meeting.

What should you do?

In advance of a disciplinary hearing, make sure you’re as prepared as possible. Gather any documentation that could support your version of events. Include any emails, letters or minutes from meetings that refer to anything that could relate to the issue you’re being disciplined for.

Make sure you know what your rights are. Look at the facts of the case and ensure you are not at risk of constructive dismissal or wrongful dismissal.

A written statement prepared ahead of time will ensure you make all the points you want to make. Not having to worry about forgetting any of your main points can help to keep you calm and in control during the hearing.

Support during a disciplinary hearing

If you do want to take a companion to your disciplinary hearing, you can take a colleague, a trade union representative or a trade union official. If a colleague can’t attend and you don’t belong to a trade union, you are allowed to ask to take a family member or a Citizens Advice worker. But your employer is not obligated to agree to this unless your employment contract says they are.

When you’re in your meeting, your companion is able to present and sum up your case, as well as add anything to help your case. You’re also able speak to your companion during the meeting, but they can’t answer any questions on your behalf. If they’re worried about supporting you in the hearing, you can reassure them that they can’t be disciplined for doing so.

If you need an employment solicitor to advise on a disciplinary matter or any form of dismissal, First4Lawyers could help. To find out more, just get in touch.

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