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. One of the first questions to ask yourself should be – is the person chairing my disciplinary hearing correct? Please read on to find out more.
Please note, this blog aims to specifically assist in relation to who should chair your disciplinary hearing. For more general guidance and assistance in preparing for a disciplinary hearing, please see our blogs here https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/employee-top-tips-for-a-disciplinary-hearing/ and https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/employee-five-questions-to-ask-your-employer-before-attending-a-disciplinary-hearing/
Alternatively, if you are facing a disciplinary hearing, why not contact us for a free initial consultation? Please use the contact form, engage in a web chat, email email@example.com or call us on 01522 440512 and we will be happy to help.
Overview of Disciplinary Procedure
If you have been notified of a disciplinary hearing at work, your employer should be following their own disciplinary procedure (if they have one). In any event, your employer should also follow the ACAS Code on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. 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
- Notified you of the time and location of the disciplinary hearing; and
- Explained your right to be accompanied at the disciplinary hearing (for more information about this, please see here – https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/who-can-i-take-with-me-to-my-disciplinary-hearing/)
- Informed you of who will be chairing your disciplinary hearing.
Who Should Chair My Disciplinary Hearing?
The role of a disciplinary chair (or, alternatively, several people as a disciplinary panel) is to review the available evidence; ask you questions in relation to your alleged misconduct; lead the disciplinary hearing; consider your representations and make decisions on behalf of your employer.
The decision-making process of a disciplinary chair is essentially two-fold:
- Firstly, they must decide, based on the available evidence and your representations, whether the allegation(s) against you are proven. This should be considered on the balance of probabilities. If they are not proven, there should be no further action taken (and therefore no further decisions to make).
- If the allegation(s) are proven, they must decide what disciplinary sanction to impose. They should consider the full range of disciplinary sanctions available such as warnings, demotion, dismissal with notice or summary (immediate) dismissal.
The disciplinary chair (or panel) therefore has a significant amount of responsibility and control in the disciplinary process. For this reason, it is very important that the right person is selected. Importantly, the disciplinary chair should be as impartial and objective as possible.
In considering who should act as disciplinary chair, it is important to consider the size and administrative resources of your employer. For example, if your employer is a small family run business, they are likely to have less available people to consider as disciplinary chair than an international company.
In practice, however, you would expect the disciplinary chair to:
- Not have been involved in the investigation fact-finding process;
- Not have been involved in any way in the allegations against you (for example, being the person who made the complaint of your misconduct);
- Be senior enough within the business to make the relevant decisions (such as, any decision to dismiss you).
Can I Challenge the Selected Disciplinary Chair?
As above, before attending your disciplinary hearing, you should be informed of who is the disciplinary chair/panel. 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.
The above is important so 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. If this is the case, we would suggest objecting to that person chairing the hearing in writing. You should clearly explain why you consider it will negatively hinder your ability to defend yourself and, if possible, suggest another person you consider to be more appropriate.
We would suggest raising your concerns as soon as possible after receiving notification of your disciplinary hearing. This should allow your employer enough time to consider your concerns and respond accordingly.
If you are unable to deal with the issue informally (for example, if your employer ignores or rejects your concerns), you may wish to raise a Formal Grievance. For more information about this, please see here- https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/what-is-a-formal-grievance/
Importantly, if your employer ignores or rejects your concerns about the disciplinary chair and the disciplinary chair then makes an unreasonable decision at the hearing, you are likely to have grounds to appeal that decision. You may also have potential claims in the Employment Tribunal. For more information about this, please see here – https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/employees/
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.
Specialist Employment Solicitor
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors
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