Disciplinary hearings are rightly approached by many employers with considerable caution. Failure to follow the correct procedure can make what would otherwise be a fair dismissal unfair and can prove very costly. It is all the more annoying when costly mistakes could have been easily avoided. Sean Carty considers the key aspects of a fair procedure.
Disciplinary hearings should be used by employers to warn employees that their performance or conduct is not up to the expected standard, to encourage improvement and if necessary, as part of the process towards dismissal.
You should have a well thought out disciplinary procedure to ensure regularity when dealing with any disciplinary issue and in turn to assist you to prove to an Employment Tribunal that you acted fairly if there are any later disputes. Furthermore, workforce morale can be affected if an employer fails to address matters consistently and can in turn have an effect on performance and output.
The usual and most important steps in holding a disciplinary hearing are to:
- Provide the employee with written confirmation of the issue and set out details with regard to the hearing in plenty of time.
- Hold a disciplinary hearing where both parties are given the opportunity to set out their case.
- Keep a documented record of the hearing.
- Allow the employee to be accompanied at the hearing (usually by a union representative or fellow employee).
- Provide written notice of the outcome of the process with reasons.
- Set out in clear and strightforward terms details of any sanction to be imposed.
- Provide the employee with an opportunity to appeal.
Mishandling disciplinary hearings gives rise to a huge percentage of employment tribunal claims made each year in relation to breach of contract, unfair dismissal and discrimination. It is therefore imperative that a fair procedure is in place and is correctly followed when any disciplinary action is taken. Please call us on 08000 832 832 for advice on how to deal with a disciplinary issue and assistance in creating a disciplinary procedure to suit the individual needs of your business.
Read more about disciplinary hearings here.