If you have been invited to a disciplinary hearing, understandably, you may be feeling stressed and nervous. Here at Lincs Law Employment Solicitors, we are here to help. Please read on to find out more about the questions you should ask your employer before attending your disciplinary hearing.
If you have been notified of a disciplinary hearing to consider alleged misconduct, it is important that you have sufficient information about the allegations and the disciplinary process your employer is following. This will help you to prepare your representations and defend yourself against the allegations.
Here at Lincs Law Employment Solicitors, we have a combined 80 years’ experience advising clients facing disciplinary proceedings. As such, below we have compiled a list of questions to ask your employer before attending a disciplinary hearing. These are as follows:
- What Is The Disciplinary Procedure?
- What Allegations Am I Facing?
- Who Will Be Chairing The Disciplinary Hearing?
- How Can I Bring A Companion With Me?
- If The Allegations Are Proven, What Could Happen?
Please note, you may find that your employer has already provided you with some of the above information throughout the disciplinary process. However, if you have any doubts about the answers to the above questions, make sure you ask!
Question 1: What Is The Disciplinary Procedure?
We understand that employees worried about losing their jobs or receiving a disciplinary sanction often find the whole disciplinary process very difficult. As a result, unsurprisingly, employees often overlook a very obvious point – making sure their employer follows a fair disciplinary procedure!
To explain, if you are facing disciplinary proceedings, your employer should follow their own disciplinary procedure (if they have one). This can usually be found in your Contract of Employment or Employee Handbook. If you do not have a copy of your employer’s procedure ahead of the disciplinary hearing, it is very important that you ask for a copy. This will allow you to check your employer has been (and indeed is) following their own policy.
In any event, your employer should also follow the ACAS Code on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures (“the ACAS Code”). This sets out the minimum standard expected of an employer when dealing with disciplinary proceedings. Essentially, by the time you have been notified of a disciplinary hearing, your employer should have:
- Investigated the allegations against you to establish the facts of the case (which may, or may not, have included holding an investigation meeting with you); and
- Decided whether there is a disciplinary case to answer; and
- If there was a disciplinary case to answer, informed you about the problem, provided you with sufficient information about the alleged misconduct, and explained the possible outcomes of the disciplinary hearing; and
- Invited you to a disciplinary hearing; and
- Explained your right to be accompanied at the disciplinary hearing (as below)
Following your disciplinary hearing, your employer should consider your representations (and any available evidence) and decide whether the allegations are proven. If so, they should decide what disciplinary sanction to impose. You should be informed about this in writing. You should then be provided with the opportunity to appeal the outcome.
If you have any concerns about the disciplinary process your employer has been following, you should consider raising the issues in writing, and within your disciplinary hearing itself. Particularly, if you consider that your employer’s actions have impacted your ability to defend yourself.
Question 2: What Allegations Am I Facing?
If your employer has decided you need to attend a disciplinary hearing, you should be notified of the time and location of the disciplinary hearing. You should also be provided with sufficient information (in writing) about the allegations you are facing, including any evidence your employer has gathered throughout the investigation process.
You should receive information such as:
- A detailed description of your alleged misconduct (i.e., what has allegedly happened, the timing of the alleged misconduct and who was involved).
- An explanation as to why your actions are deemed to be misconduct (including, if relevant, a copy of any specific policy or instruction you have allegedly contravened).
- A copy of any evidence your employer has gathered during the investigation process (for example, any witness statements, an Investigation Report, any photographs etc).
If your employer has not provided you with sufficient information about the allegations made against you, or you think you are missing relevant documentation, you should raise this (in writing) with your employer. Do not be afraid to ask for more information – it is so important that you know what you are facing, so you are not blindsided in the hearing.
Questions 3: Who Will Be Chairing The Disciplinary Hearing?
Before attending your disciplinary hearing, it is also important that you know who is chairing the hearing i.e., who is going to be hearing the evidence, deciding if the allegations are proven and, if so, what disciplinary sanction should be imposed.
The chairperson should be as impartial and objective as possible. They should not, for example, be involved in any way in the allegations against you (such as being the person who made the complaint about your alleged misconduct). Similarly, if possible, they should not have been involved in the disciplinary investigation process.
If you have not been provided with details of their identity, we would advise you request this information (in writing) before attending your disciplinary hearing. This is important so that you have a chance to raise your concerns/object to that person chairing the hearing, if you consider that it will negatively hinder your ability to defend yourself.
Question 4: How Can I Bring A Companion With Me?
If your disciplinary hearing could lead to some sort of disciplinary action being taken against you (e.g., a written warning, dismissal), you have a legal right to be accompanied by one of the following people: –
- A Trade Union Representative; or
- An official employed by a Trade Union; or
- A work colleague.
You may be able to take someone else (who is not listed above) to your disciplinary hearing. For more information about this, please see our blog here – https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/who-can-i-take-with-me-to-my-disciplinary-hearing/.
If you would like to be accompanied at your disciplinary hearing, you should firstly check your employer’s disciplinary procedure (if they have one). If this details how to request a companion, you should follow their procedure. If, however, you are not sure about the practicalities of being accompanied at your disciplinary hearing, ask your employer for more information!
Here at Lincs Law Employment Solicitors, we appreciate how daunting and stressful attending a disciplinary hearing can be. For this reason, we would advise you to seriously consider taking a companion along with you, as above.
Question 5: If The Allegations Are Proven, What Could Happen?
It is also important you are aware how serious your employer considers the allegations to be and, consequently, the possible outcomes of the disciplinary hearing.
To explain, if allegations are proven, common outcomes of a disciplinary hearing can include:
- First Written Warning
- Final Written Warning
- Dismissal with notice
- Summary dismissal (dismissal without notice).
You therefore need to know what is at stake before you attend your disciplinary hearing. In particular, you need to be aware of whether you are facing allegations of gross misconduct and are at risk of dismissal (with or without notice).
If your employer has not informed you about the possible outcomes of the hearing, ask them! Ideally, you should request further information in writing, to protect your position in the event of a later dispute.
I Do Not Agree With The Outcome of My Disciplinary Hearing – What Should I Do?
Following your disciplinary hearing, your employer should consider whether the allegations against you have been proven and, if so, what sanction is reasonable. You should be informed of the outcome in writing.
If you do not agree with the outcome of your disciplinary hearing, you should be given the opportunity to appeal. If you do not appeal, any decision will be part of your personnel record and these decisions cannot be challenged internally months later. Also, if you bring a claim to the Employment Tribunal, an Employment Tribunal Judge will expect you to have exhausted all internal appeals and can reduce your compensation if you have failed to do so.
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Can Help You
We always hope the information on our website is helpful. However, if you are subject to disciplinary action, we advise you to seek legal advice as soon as possible. If you would like a free consultation with one of team at Lincs Law Employment Solicitors, simply use the contact form, engage in a web chat, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01522 440512 and we’ll be happy to help.
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