Running Disciplinary Meetings – A Step By Step Guide

Disciplinary Meeting

Disciplinary Meetings are a key part of a formal disciplinary process.

If you decide to discipline an employee following an investigation, you should arrange a formal meeting.

When undertaking a formal disciplinary process, you should be able to show the process has been fair. You should also be able to justify how you’ve made any management decisions.

Disciplinary Meeting Invite Letter

Write to the employee to invite them to the meeting. The invitation letter should:

  • Include full details of the allegations made
  • Provide a copy of the investigation report and any evidence, documentation or statements gathered
  • Communicate where and when the meeting will happen
  • Advise the employee of their statutory right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union representative
  • Give at least 1-3 days’ notice to allow the employee a chance to prepare
  • Include details of who will attend the meeting
  • Outline any potential disciplinary actions, such as a formal sanction or dismissal  
  • Tell the employee how to confirm their attendance and if they will bring a companion.

What is a Fair Disciplinary Process?

Employees should have the chance to respond to any allegations. You must follow a fair process in preparing and conducting the meeting.

You should ensure:

1. You undertake a timely and proportionate investigation before deciding on a disciplinary meeting

2. The disciplinary decision-maker is not the person who conducted the investigation

3. You ideally have at least 2 managers on the disciplinary panel

4. Someone takes notes of the meeting. This should ideally be someone not previously involved in the incident.

5. The allegations are clearly set out

6. The employee can put their side forward

7. The hearing is adjourned whilst a decision is made

8. The employee has the right to be accompanied

9. The employee has the right to appeal any formal sanction issued

10. That the outcome and reasons for the decision is provided in writing. This communication should give enough detail given to remove future ambiguity.

Formal Disciplinary Sanctions

Formal sanctions could include:

  • A Verbal Warning or Letter of Concern, generally valid for up to 6 months. These are used for used for low-level conduct concerns.
  • A Written Warning, generally valid for 6-12 months. These are used for moderately severe conduct issues. 
  • A Final Written Warning, generally valid for 12 months. These are used for more serious conduct concerns.
  • Dismissal with paid notice. This approach would be used for serious concerns or where previous attempts to resolve issues have failed.
  • Gross Misconduct Dismissal without paid notice. This approach would be taken where there has been a fundamental breach of the employment contract.

You can also consider alternatives to dismissal such as demotion and loss of pay.

The Disciplinary Meeting Format

In a Disciplinary Meeting, you should:

  • Welcome attendees and introduce their roles.
  • If relevant, check and document that the employee is happy to proceed without a companion.
  • Read the allegation out exactly as it appears on the meeting letter of invitation and explain that the meeting is to discuss the allegation.
  • Explain the seriousness of their alleged behaviour (safety, legal, etc.) and ask if they understand possible outcomes
  • Invite the investigating manager to summarise the investigation findings and conclusions drawn
  • Invite the employee to ask any questions about the investigation process and clarify if there is anything they disagree with. If there is, ask why.
  • Invite the employee to put forward their own case / share anything they wish to say.
  • Ask the employee any questions as needed to clarify understanding
  • If there is a history of similar behaviour, ask why this has not been addressed.
  • Ask the employee if there are any mitigating circumstances for their alleged behaviour they would like taken into consideration.
  • Ask if the investigating manager or employee has any final comments before the disciplinary manager(s) adjourn to make their decision.
  • Adjourn the meeting and note the time of adjournment
  • Disciplinary manager(s) should decide whether to issue a formal sanction. If so, what this will be and why.
  • Reconvene the meeting and let the employee know the outcome. If agreed beforehand the outcome may be shared by telephone.
  • Give the right of appeal
  • When taking no further action, inform the employee and follow up in writing.

Companion Role

Employees have a right to be accompanied by a fellow employee, trade union representative or official.

Some employers allow colleagues to be supported by a family member or friend. This is entirely discretionary and sets a future precedent for the business.

The companion is permitted to

  • put forward the employee’s case
  • sum up that case
  • respond on the employee’s behalf to any view expressed at the meeting
  • seek clarification on behalf of the employee  
  • confer with the employee during the meeting

The companion has no right to answer questions on the employee’s behalf or formally address the meeting.

If the companion isn’t available for the suggested meeting date, you should rearrange to a mutually convenient time. This should ideally not exceed 5 working days from the original date. Unless circumstances are exceptional, employers aren’t obligated to rearrange a meeting more than once to accommodate availability.

Disciplinary Outcome Letter

Confirm the meeting in writing, including verbal warnings.

The letter should:

  • Confirm the time, date and location the meeting was held 
  • State who was present / who gave apologies
  • Provide details of the companion, or if the employee chose to attend alone
  • Summarise the allegations, including any key discussion points and conclusions drawn
  • Detail any mitigation or exceptional circumstances that have been considered
  • Detail the disciplinary sanction given and reason for this decision
  • Clarify timescales for the sanction and expiry date
  • Give the right of appeal
  • Clarify any additional agreed actions such as training or team building
  • Enclose the Disciplinary meeting notes. These can be sent later if requested.

Would you like advice about disciplinary hearings or managing staff conduct issues? Contact Debbie at Concilium HR today on 07885 370054 or email debbie@concilium-hr.co.uk

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