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A formal disciplinary procedure involves a number of detailed steps which must be carried out by your employer, in relation to concerns they may have about misconduct or poor performance.

However, whether it is appropriate for your employer to have commenced this process will depend on the circumstances and nature of the concerns. Generally, save for particularly serious cases of misconduct or poor performance, an employer should look to discuss concerns with an employee informally, before starting the formal procedure.

Stages of a disciplinary procedure

There are certain steps involved in a disciplinary procedure that your employer must carry out. Below we talk you through each of those steps.

Is your employer carrying out a formal investigation?

If informal discussions haven’t resolved the situation, then your employer may begin the formal disciplinary process. We would recommend you familiarise yourself with a copy of the disciplinary policy so that you are aware of the steps your employer will be taking. We can also review this policy and advise you on whether there have been any errors in your employer’s approach.

In terms of the process, generally your employer should firstly inform you that they are carrying out an investigation into the concerns. This may involve you being invited to an investigation meeting to clarify the extent of the concerns and for you to put your view forward. Alternatively, the investigation stage may just involve the collation of evidence by the employer, such as talking to relevant witnesses. In some cases, it may be a combination of the two.

In some cases, your employer may suspend you pending the investigation. However, suspension should only be applied where appropriate and should be kept to as brief a period as possible.

Have you been invited to a disciplinary hearing?

Following the investigation stage of the process, if your employer decides that there is a case to answer then they will likely invite you to a disciplinary hearing. Your employer should write to you with the scheduled date and time of the hearing and should set out the nature of the allegations or concerns in enough detail for you to be able to prepare and respond to them at the hearing.

You should be given sufficient time to prepare your case, but the hearing should ideally be held without unreasonable delay. At the hearing you have the legal right to be accompanied by either a workplace colleague or a trade union representative.

What should you expect at the disciplinary hearing?

Your employer should firstly set the scene and set out in detail the nature of the allegations and concerns.

Your employer should then allow you to put forward your case and answer any allegations that have been made. You should also be given a chance to ask questions, present evidence, and query any witness statements that have been collected previously, if necessary.

At the disciplinary hearing you have the legal right to be accompanied by either a workplace colleague or a trade union representative.

The Employment team can offer a fixed fee meeting to discuss your legal position and advise you of the steps that your employer should be taking. It may be that you feel the disciplinary process has been unfairly and unjustifiably instigated against you and that you wish to challenge it and appeal a decision, which we can also assist with.

If you would like advice in relation to the disciplinary procedure your employer has initiated, please contact either Adam Wheal or Sarah Hayes to book an appointment.