Note Taking at Disciplinary Hearings
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 article concentrates on Note Taking At Disciplinary Hearings.
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.
How Should the Notes be Recorded?
The notes should be hand written. abbreviations are fine but 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.
Make sure you have sufficient paper, I usually take a new A4 lined notebook, and plenty of spare pens or pencils. Place the initials of who is speaking in the margin and what they say in the main body of the page.
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
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.