In previous articles I have provided my How to Investigate Misconduct and my Top Tips to Dealing with the Suspension of Employee During a Disciplinary Investigation. On completion of the disciplinary investigation a decision needs to made as to whether there is a disciplinary case to answer. If the answer is yes, then the next step will be to arrange and conduct a disciplinary hearing to allow the employee to formally respond to the allegation(s).
What is a Disciplinary Hearing?
- Opportunity for the employee to put forward their version of the events
- To discuss the case with an objective manager who has had no prior involvement with the investigation
- Decision is based solely on the evidence available
- Decide if formal action is required
How do you Arrange a Fair Hearing?
If disciplinary action is considered necessary, the employee should be notified in writing. The ACAS Code states that this letter should contain sufficient information about the alleged misconduct and its possible consequences to enable the employee to prepare for the disciplinary hearing. In particular the letter should make it clear to the employee what it is they are being accused of. In Celebi v Scolarest Compass Group UK Ltd, the employer informed Ms Celebi that it was investigating the “loss of £3000 cash” and later that the disciplinary hearing would consider ‘discrepancies in banking’. However her dismissal was found to be unfair because the reason for her dismissal – the employer’s belief that Ms Celebi had stolen £3000- was never put directly to her.
- Give the employee reasonable notice of the hearing (check your company policy for specific timescales)
- Notify them of their right to be accompanied during the hearing
- Attach copies of all written evidence, including witness statements, with the notification of the hearing
- Attach a copy of your disciplinary policy with the notification to avoid any confusion about the process
- The chair person should be a manager of the same or higher level than the manager who conducted the investigation
- The chair person should be a manager of a higher level than the employee under investigation
What Happens at the Disciplinary Hearing?
At the hearing itself, it will be important for the employee to be given a full and fair hearing. The employee should have a full opportunity to put forward their version of events and any mitigating factors or explanation.
At the end of the hearing, the chair person should summarise what has been discussed and then adjourn before reaching any conclusion about what, if any, formal disciplinary action to take.
Checklist for Planning and Conducting a Formal Disciplinary Hearing
My Checklist for Planning and Conducting a Formal Disciplinary Hearing provides advice on how to structure a formal disciplinary hearing. It is designed to be used as a checklist to ensure that meetings are conducted on an appropriate basis.
- The Case for the Employer
- The Case for the Employee
- During the Hearing: cross examination, new facts, re-examination and adjournments
- Final Statements
- The Final Adjournment
- Confirming the Outcome
- After the Hearing