Do I have to hold a disciplinary hearing to impose a sanction?
Yes – you must hold a disciplinary hearing and offer the individual their right to be accompanied and give adequate notice of the meeting. You should provide copies of any evidence that you will be using at the hearing and also copies of any policies or procedures that are relevant.
Does my employee have the right to be accompanied at a disciplinary hearing?
Yes – you should give the employee sufficient notice of the meeting, provide them with all the evidence in advance so that they can prepare their response, and allow the employee to have a companion who should be either a colleague or a trade union representative who has been trained to attend a formal meeting as a companion.
How much notice do I need to give my employee to attend a disciplinary hearing?
You should give at least 48 hours notice to enable the employee to prepare their response to the evidence you have collected prior to determining that there was a disciplinary case to answer.
What do I do if my employee asks for the meeting to be arranged at another time?
Your employee can ask for the meeting to be rescheduled but only if it is for a genuine reason such as they are on holiday the day you have scheduled the hearing or their companion is unavailable. You should only let the employee reschedule the meeting once though and advise that if they fail to attend at the new date and time the hearing may take place in their absence based on the evidence to hand at the time.
What do I do if my employee is signed off sick during a period of suspension or before or during the disciplinary process?
Your employee must still report their sickness absence in accordance with your established procedures. Write to the employee confirming that the disciplinary process will be put on hold until the individual returns to work.
Make sure you conduct a return to work interview with the individual on their first day back to record that they have confirmed they are fit to return.
What do I do if my employee goes off sick before the Disciplinary Hearing?
You should put the disciplinary process on hold pending the individual being fit to attend a hearing. If the individual has been suspended on full pay and is then sick you should pay sick pay only for each day the employee is sick provided the employee follows your sickness reporting procedure. Once the individual would be fit to return to work were it not for the fact that the employee had been suspended, you should pay full pay and continue with the disciplinary procedure by arranging the disciplinary hearing.
What do I do if my employee has booked holiday around the time of the hearing?
You should take it into account and adjust your timings accordingly. If the employee is going on holiday imminently and the hearing will not take place until after they return from holiday, it would be wise to wait until they return before addressing the issue. If the employee is going on holiday at a time that is likely to affect their ability to respond within the timeframe, adjust the timeframe to enable them to have a fair chance of appeal.
What do I do if the individual resigns before or during the disciplinary process?
If the employee resigns before or during the disciplinary process you are entitled to say in a reference that that is the case and mark the individual’s file accordingly. What you must not do in the reference is give any indication as to whether or not you think there would have been a disciplinary sanction because without completing the process you are not in a position to make that decision.
Do I have to adjourn the hearing before reaching a decision about what sanction to impose?
Yes – you must adjourn before giving your decision to allow yourself time to consider the evidence and the employee’s responses to the allegations before you decide what sanction, if any, to impose. You should also check what sanctions have been imposed on others in similar circumstances to ensure the sanction is proportionate. You can either reconvene the same day (the adjournment should last at least 20 minutes) or you can write to the employee with your decision. If you write to the employee with your decision make sure you tell the employee when to expect the decision.
Do I have to start at the first level of sanction regardless of the offence?
No - you should impose a sanction that is appropriate to the act or omission that has given rise to the disciplinary hearing. For example, in cases of persistent lateness, you would normally start at the first level sanction and if there was no improvement, impose the second sanction, and then the next etc, until either you dismiss the employee with notice or the employee’s attendance improves.
If there has been a serious breach of company rules but it is not so serious as to constitute gross misconduct, you may impose a final written warning as the first sanction.
What can I do if the hearing was not conducted properly by the line manager?
If the employee appeals the decision and you are concerned the hearing was not conducted in accordance with your procedure, you can decide to re-hear the entire case from beginning to end as part of the appeal process. This enables you to put right any actual or perceived procedural errors that have been made.