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I recently talked about why it is so important to conduct a proper and fair disciplinary investigation, and how to go about it.
Once the investigation is complete the employer must then decide whether there is a disciplinary case for the employee to answer. If the answer is yes, the next step is to hold a disciplinary hearing. Of course, it continues to be important to ensure the correct procedures are followed when both preparing for, and during, the disciplinary hearing itself.
- As with conducting the disciplinary investigation, it is vital that you are familiar with your internal disciplinary and grievance procedures, which should already be in place (and have been communicated to your staff). These should follow the Acas code of practice. Although it isn’t a legal requirement to follow the code, not following it could mean that if someone wins an employment tribunal against you, their award could be up to 25% more than if you do follow the code.
- The person conducting the disciplinary hearing should not have been involved in the investigation.
- Send the employee a letter inviting them to the disciplinary hearing. Make sure they have sufficient opportunity to prepare their response to the allegations (this should not come as a surprise, as you should have already had a meeting with them during the investigation).
- Tell the employee that they can bring a colleague (or union representative) to the hearing. This person will be able to put the employee’s case forward, sum up the case and respond on the employee’s behalf, as well as confer with the employee. If the employee choses not to be accompanied, make sure you record that they have been informed of their right to be.
- Arrange for any required witnesses or evidence to be available, and appoint someone to take notes on the proceedings.
- Prepare yourself to be calm and open-minded – tempers may become frayed and it is important that you maintain control, and keep to the agenda. Be prepared to adjourn if necessary.
- Begin by explaining the process and what will happen before presenting the case against the employee.
- Allow the employee time to respond, including highlighting mitigating circumstances, (for example, if the employee was unaware of the rules, or similar behaviour is widespread).
- Summarise the discussion, and adjourn to make any necessary further investigations and to reach a decision.
- Inform the employee of the decision, the reasons for it, and his or her right to appeal.
On top of all this, remember NOT to jump to conclusions, lose your temper, or make hasty decisions. Remaining fair, calm, and making a well considered decision is the best way to ensure the correct course of action.
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 email@example.com for a FREE consultation.