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The final part of the process – the appeal hearing

Over the last few weeks we have covered the importance of making sure the correct procedures are followed during the disciplinary process – including the investigation and the hearing. If you decide that disciplinary action is necessary, you must then establish the appropriate penalty. There is more information on how to decide on a ‘fair and reasonable’ penalty here.

If, once this decision has has been made and communicated to the employee, they feel that the action is wrong or unjust they may appeal against the decision.

Providing employees with the opportunity to appeal against a disciplinary decision is an important part of a fair disciplinary procedure, and as integral as all the other stages of the disciplinary process when it comes to avoiding costly employment tribunals.

It is good practice to ensure that an employee has the opportunity to appeal a disciplinary penalty. With this in mind, tribunals take into account the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures – which includes recommendations about appeals against disciplinary penalties.

Appeals may be made on various grounds, including new evidence, undue severity, or inconsistency of the penalty. Employees may also request to have an appeal meeting if they feel a grievance has not been satisfactorily resolved.

As with the disciplinary hearing, the appeal must be deemed fair and thorough. This means:

–       Applying the right to appeal consistently, so as to avoid discrimination claims.

–       Hearing the appeal as soon as possible.

–       If possible, it should be dealt with by someone who hasn’t already been involved with the disciplinary action – ideally by someone more senior than the one who dealt with the original disciplinary hearing.

–       This person should not be unduly influenced by what has gone before, or committed to upholding the original decision.

–       This is all in addition to the guidance for conducting a proper disciplinary hearing – which can be found here.

Following the appeal hearing there are three possible options:

–       Not upholding the appeal: The appeal panel must be able to justify that there is insufficient evidence to overturn the original decision.

–       Upholding the appeal: This is likely to occur when new evidence has been presented, a review of the process has uncovered flaws in how the disciplinary was conducted, or if mitigating circumstances have been uncovered which were not previously taken into account.

–       Issuing a lesser sanction: If the appeal panel decides that the original sanctions were too severe and not considered to be ‘reasonable action’ they may replace the original decision with a lesser penalty. It cannot be replaced with a more severe action.

Once the decision has been made, you should write to the employee to inform them of your final decision.

For support with developing and implementing company rules and internal processes, and all stages of the disciplinary process, including provision of private meeting rooms, and even the investigation itself, contact TurnstoneHR on 01229 615 280 or email us at for a FREE consultation.

“There is evidence to suggest that good HR practice and people management in SMEs are key factors in strong business performance and can lead to increased productivity.”

- CIPD people Skills Project 2017


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