Note Taking at Disciplinary Hearings
Note taking at disciplinary hearings can be quite difficult, especially when faced with a complex disciplinary hearing. It can be difficult to keep track of what is been said, decide what to ask next and remember to keep accurate notes as you go along. So having another member of staff, or independent person, present at the hearing to take notes allows the person leading the hearing to totally concentrate on the process and the explanations the employee provides.
This page was firstly published on 24 September 2012 and the last update was 6 September 2021.
Why is Note Taking at Disciplinary Hearings Important?
The notes will be referred to as an accurate reflection of what was discussed during the hearing. They could be referred to at the appeal hearing and in defending any resulting Employment Tribunal claim. Tribunals often pay close attention to the notes that were taken during the investigation, hearing and appeal.
The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures doesn’t specify what information should be included in formal records of meetings. These are my Top Tips to getting it right.
Choosing a Note Taker
The person you choose must be independent i.e. not connected in any way to the issues at the heart of the disciplinary proceedings.
Choosing Appropriate Tools
Traditionally notes have always been hand written, using abbreviations is fine so long as appendix noting each abbreviation is included. Shorthand would not be appropriate as the employee would not be able to read that back to check for accuracy at the end of the hearing.
Laptops are been increasingly used to create notes. Listening to the meeting while creating a written record then typing up the notes so they are legible is double the work, so just type them in the first place. Audio or video recordings are also common as a back-up to the notes.
You need to determine which method is going to work best for you and the business.
Make sure you have sufficient paper, I usually take a new A4 lined notebook, and plenty of spare pens or pencils.
If you are making an audio or video recording make sure you have permission from everyone present before the meeting starts. Check your audio or video equipment in advance, and make sure you have enough batteries and extension cords. If you will be using a laptop, make sure to bring every accessory you’ll need. Check your volume level by walking around the room and experimenting with audio. (During the meeting you may have to adjust the volume if one of the speakers is soft-spoken.)
Some additional materials to bring: sticky notes, highlighters, a red pen, extra pens and note pads for others attending the meeting, any necessary file folders and meeting handouts.
Make sure you have a copy of the agenda—and bring extra copies, in the event the meeting chair forgets to bring them.
Determine Who Will Sit Where
Ideally, the note taker should sit near the chairperson. That way, they can more easily signal the chair if they need clarification and it’s easier for them to quietly say quietly something like, “Oh, did you capture that? What Bill just said was really important.”
What Should be Recorded?
- Date, time and location of the hearing
- Names and job titles of those present at the hearing
- A verbatim account of what’s discussed isn’t necessary. They should concentrate on the facts presented to prove, or disprove, the allegations and, in particular, the responses given by the employee.
- If there are adjournments during the hearing note the times the hearing stopped and reconvened
- If the conversation is progressing too quickly for you request a pause so you can catch up or ask the chairperson for a recap so you can check you’ve not missed anything
Using a standard ruler make a margin down the left side of each page and place the initials of who is speaking in the margin and what they say in the main body of the page.
Focus on capturing and communicating all important actions that took place.
Minute Taking Best Practice
- Ask yourself, as you’re taking notes, “Does this matter?” If yes, include it.
- Summarize. Don’t record conversations word for word.
- Do record proposals and decisions word for word, and indent them for easy scanning.
- Record emotions. They could lead to further disciplinary action if an employee is particularly aggressive or leaves the room without permission.
- Be an active listener. If you don’t clearly hear what has been said, interrupt the meeting and ask for it to be repeated. If you don’t understand something being discussed, but you can’t interrupt the meeting, make a note and ask the chairperson about it later.
- Accurately reflect the order of the discussion, even if it deviates from the agenda. These are legal, historical documents, and you might be asked about them at a later date.
- Create bulleted lists when recording a list of comments, suggestions or concerns.
Agreeing the Notes
You’re under no obligation to seek the employee’s approval but I always do as it helps demonstrate that you clarified every issue and haven’t missed anything.
When I take notes at a hearing, I always ask the employee to read and sign each individual page of notes at the end of the hearing.
If the employee disagrees with the content, I ask them to write down their comments and attach them to my own document.
Distributing the Notes
Again, you’re under no obligation to send a copy of your notes to the employee but I always send them out with the letter confirming the outcome of the hearing. My preference is to type up the notes at this stage but it’s perfectly acceptable to send them a copy of your hand written notes.
Template Disciplinary Meeting Record
My Template Disciplinary Meeting Record will help note takers create a solid set of notes. There are prompts for the following information: Unchanged: My template will help note takers create a solid set of notes. There are prompts for the following information:
- Those present at the hearing
- Reason(s) why the hearing has been convened, i.e. the allegations against the employee
- Date, time and location of the hearing
- Summary of the hearing discussions
- Signatures of those present
To download the Template Disciplinary Meeting Record complete your details below and you will receive an email containing the document: