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Let’s face it, disciplinary hearings are a difficult area for both employers and employees. It’s important that employers make sure that a fair and lawful process is followed throughout the hearing. After all, employees could potentially claim unfair dismissal. Equally, employees must understand their rights, especially when dealing with a workplace disciplinary issue. We hope to provide some clarity on the legal rights of employers and employees during disciplinary hearings and, more importantly, how to ensure your best interests are protected.
What Is A Disciplinary Hearing?
A disciplinary hearing is a meeting between the employee and the employer that’s held when an allegation of gross misconduct, or any other behaviour that merits disciplinary action, has been made against the employee.
While you may have a more tailored policy for your workplace, the ACAS Code of Practice sets the minimum standard of fairness that employers must follow for any discipline or grievance case. Under the guidelines, employers should try to resolve the issue informally first. If the employer feels that this is not possible and wishes to start a disciplinary procedure, they should inform the employee as soon as possible. Ideally, this should be done in writing and provide sufficient details of the alleged misconduct, as well as the potential consequences. This allows the employee time to prepare for the meeting.
It’s worth noting that the ACAS code is not the law. Having said that, it can still hold weight in court.
How Do I Know My Employer Is Investigating Me For A Disciplinary Matter?
Your employer is obligated to inform you that you are being investigated for a disciplinary matter.
Even though you have been notified verbally of disciplinary proceedings against you, your employer must explain the reason why you’re being asked to attend a hearing, giving you advanced notice and sufficient time for you to gather evidence such as emails, documents and GP records to support your case and arrange an accompanying person.
The accompanying person may be a witness. In such cases, you may want to ask your employer if the witness can attend the hearing and provide statements.
Can Someone Attend A Disciplinary Hearing With Me?
Yes. You can choose to have a Union representative or a fellow colleague that you trust attend a disciplinary hearing with you or you can instruct an experienced disciplinary hearing solicitor to represent you. Although, it’s worth noting that a disciplinary hearing is an internal process and there is no legal obligation to be legally represented by a solicitor at the hearing unless the outcome of the hearing is likely to result in you losing your ability to work in this field in the future. In most cases, you will have to get your employer to agree to you having legal representation at the hearing.
If you are an employer, you have consented to bring in an outside representative for disciplinary hearings.
What Are The Possible Outcomes Of A Disciplinary Hearing?
Following the hearing, the employer will need to assess the evidence and decide whether a further investigation is required. In such cases, the outcome of the hearing will be postponed. If the employer is satisfied that a decision can be made using the evidence provided in the initial meeting, they will provide the disciplinary outcome in writing to the employee at the earliest possible opportunity.
Depending on the severity of the matter, there are several possible outcomes of a disciplinary hearing, including:
- No further action is taken against you
- An informal verbal warning
- A first or final written warning
- Adjustments to the terms of your contract i.e. moved to another branch or location
What If I Disagree With The Outcome, Can I Appeal?
If you feel that the sanction imposed has been applied unfairly or is simply disproportionate, you can appeal. Your employer should notify you that you have the right to appeal when they’ve reached a decision and, of course, you can be accompanied by a colleague or trade union representative. Alternatively, you can instruct a knowledgeable and experienced disciplinary hearing solicitor.
How Cartwright King Can Help
At Cartwright King, we can help with various other legal cases – whether that be a financial crime, regulatory law or criminal defence. We know that dealing with legal issues can be stressful and intimidating, which is why having the right legal advice and guidance is key to standing up for yourself.
Our unique advocacy services give you constant and consistent legal advice and guidance. Cartwright King can advise you at every stage of your case, giving you reliable, professional and effective legal guidance whenever and wherever you need us. When you need us most, we will be there with the legal know-how and calm head to guide you through your case.
What’s more, we’re committed to defending your legal rights and ensuring that you’re treated fairly and with respect throughout your case. We’re a trusted, resourceful Legal 500 top-tier law firm with specialist solicitors that are calm under pressure, giving you defence support that you can count on. Get in touch with us today. We look forward to speaking with you soon.
All advice is correct at time of publication.