When holding a formal disciplinary hearing, you should:
- ensure that it's private and won't be interrupted
- introduce everyone and explain why they are there
- explain the reason for the hearing and how it will be conducted
- describe the exact nature of the complaint and go through the evidence
- give the employee a chance to state their case and to respond to any allegations made
- get all the facts and take note of any special circumstances
- summarise what's been discussed and highlight any issues that need to be investigated further
If it becomes clear that the employee has a satisfactory explanation for their conduct or performance, stop the hearing and take no further action.
Informing the employee of your disciplinary decision
Following a disciplinary hearing, you should inform the employee as soon as possible in writing of:
- the disciplinary penalty you plan to impose, if any
- the reasoning behind your decision
- the specific improvement that is required, if any
- how long any warning is going to remain in force
- what will happen if they continue to perform or behave poorly
- their right of appeal and how this should be carried out
Dealing with delays to the disciplinary hearing
If the employee is genuinely unable to attend the disciplinary hearing, offer them a reasonable date and time as an alternative.
You should make the employee aware that decisions may be taken in their absence if they fail to attend rearranged meetings without good reason.
If the employee chooses to be accompanied by a companion and the employee's companion cannot make the rearranged hearing, the employee must propose another date and time which is no more than five working days after the day you originally proposed.
If the employee fails to attend the rearranged hearing without good reason, you can treat this stage of the procedure as complete and make your decision there and then. You must still inform the employee in writing of your decision and that they have the right to appeal.
If you cannot make the rearranged hearing, you must offer the employee a reasonable alternative date and time.
Notify the employee as soon as possible of any delays. If you fail to do so, an industrial tribunal/arbitrator could increase any compensation awarded to the employee.
Dealing with long-term absence
An employee may well become anxious or stressed in the run-up to a disciplinary hearing, which can lead to them being absent with stress-related illness.
If this happens, you can ask the employee's GP or an occupational health specialist for a medical report. You must gain the employee's agreement before doing so.
The report should state whether or not the employee is fit enough to attend a hearing in the near future.
If they are deemed fit enough to attend, you should arrange the hearing with the employee in the normal way.
If they are not fit to attend, you might not be able to complete the disciplinary procedure without unreasonable delay. You can treat the procedure as having been completed and make a decision in the employee's absence. You should still tell the employee that they can supply written representation or other material for their defense if they wish.