Conducting A Fair Disciplinary Hearing
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?
A disciplinary process in a work environment is different but based on the same principles of a criminal investigation, with a disciplinary hearing not entirely too dissimilar to a trial.
The hearing should provide the 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
The decision should always be based solely on the evidence available.
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.
I’m not a monster but I do enjoy a good disciplinary process. Why? because I enjoy righting a wrong. For example, when an employee’s purposeful actions have caused great distress to other people, I have the ability to discuss their actions with the employee, identify the behaviour or conduct that is unacceptable and hopefully, put it right.
I also take great satisfaction when an employee has downright lied to me, and I am able to put evidence in front of them that then proves that they are being dishonest.
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