How To Conduct An Employment Disciplinary Hearing

Disciplining employees is not a function many managers relish in. In fact, many will go out of their way to avoid confronting a worker who clearly needs bringing into line. However, the longer a problem like a difficult employee is left to fester, the worse it becomes and you risk bringing down the morale of other staff members if you do not deal with the matter promptly.

Knowing how to conduct a disciplinary hearing in a legal, fair way will provide you with confidence in dealing with difficult workers.  A well run disciplinary hearing will give you the opportunity to discuss your concerns with your employee, and for them to explain how they will address the behaviour.

What is the purpose of a disciplinary hearing?

Before a disciplinary hearing is conducted, a disciplinary investigation should take place.  The hearing will provide a setting to evaluate and discuss the findings of the investigation and allow the employee to state his or her case.

The disciplinary hearing also allows managers to use a fair process to decide the level of disciplinary action that should be taken against the employee.

Should I use the Acas Code of Practice On Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures?

The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures (the Code) provides a number of practices and procedures that are required for a disciplinary hearing to be deemed fair.

It is advisable use this code because, in the event that the employee makes a claim in the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal, the tribunal will take into account that the code was not followed.  Also, the tribunal has the power to increase an award by 25% if it finds that the employee had no good reason not to follow the Code’s procedures.

What constitutes a ‘fair hearing’ under the Code?

For a disciplinary hearing to be considered fair the employer must:

  • have a meeting with the worker to talk about the issue
  • let the employee bring someone with them to the meeting
  • decide what action to take
  • provide an opportunity for the employee to appeal any decision made

Furthermore, the manager should follow a strict process to ensure the disciplinary hearing is conducted in a fair and consistent manner.  To achieve this, the manager should:

  • open the hearing
  • present the employer’s case
  • hear the employee’s side of the story
  • adjourn to consider both sides of the matter
  • reach a decision and provide justification for that decision
  • reconvene to communicate the decision
  • explain the right of appeal to the employee

Do I need to present the decision reach in the disciplinary hearing in writing?

Yes, even if it was presented orally at the hearing.  The written decision should be provided within 48 hours of the hearing and include details of:

  • the allegation
  • a summary of the key evidence
  • the decision and the justification for it
  • the right of appeal

If you need to conduct a disciplinary hearing with a staff member then it is imperative that you seek legal advice to ensure you follow a fair and consistent process.  Otherwise you risk being taken to the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal.

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