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Facing disciplinary action

If you are required to attend a disciplinary hearing, make sure you have access to the employer’s disciplinary procedure and observe whether the correct procedure is being followed.

Your employer is required to send you a letter outlining the following:

  • reasons for the hearing, and any documentation or other materials the employer is proposing to rely upon at the hearing.
  • date, time and location of hearing.
  • advising you your right to be accompanied either by a trade union representative, or a work colleague.
  • In the event of a finding against you what the potential sanction could be. This is particularly important if one sanction could be dismissal.

You should also receive notification of the hearing, and all documentation which will be used at the hearing in sufficient time to allow you reasonable time to prepare. If your employer has a disciplinary policy it may well be worth checking whether the policy stipulates this is.

It is also important to establish whether any disciplinary policy is contractual. Again, if your employer has a written disciplinary policy it should state this. If these procedures are not followed and you’re dismissed, you may have the right to make an unfair dismissal claim

If at all possible it is important for you seek advice before attending a disciplinary hearing. You cannot usually take a legal representative into internal proceedings but can be accompanied by a work colleague or Trade Union Official. You may wish to take someone else into the hearing with you, such as your spouse or another relative. There is no legal obligation on the employer to allow your companion to be anyone other than a trade union representative or work colleague, however, if for example you have a disability, your employer may need to consider whether a reasonable adjustment to this rule is warranted. You also have the right to take witnesses in or produce witness statements in the hearing, albeit the onus is usually on you to arrange for witnesses to attend.

If you are suspended awaiting investigation/disciplinary action, you are likely to have the right to receive full pay until the matter is resolved.

If your employer does not have a written disciplinary policy, they should comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures which sets out the minimum procedure an employer should follow.

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