If you are faced with a disciplinary problem, it is important to follow the rules of fairness and natural justice effectively and to run the case correctly in order to avoid a claim of unfair dismissal.
Discipline at work
You have the right to take disciplinary action if you consider that the conduct, job performance or attendance of an employee is not satisfactory. However, this action should follow the rules of fairness and natural justice. This means that, in most cases, you should:
- investigate the alleged problem sufficiently thoroughly
- prepare your case and make it available for the employee to consider
- allow the employee to prepare their case and put their side of the story, including giving their own evidence
- allow the employee to appeal if they are not happy with the decision made.
An employee has the statutory right to be accompanied to a disciplinary meeting by a work colleague or a trade union official or representative. In some cases, they may have a right to be represented by a solicitor.
Although it is not like a court hearing, a disciplinary meeting should be conducted in a way that allows the case to be properly put and answered. Documents may be considered, witness statements may be considered and questions may be asked. The employee should be given the opportunity to put their case so that the person making the decision is fully informed before doing so. There should be a note of what is said at the meeting. Sometimes disciplinary meetings are recorded.
If the employee appeals against the sanction imposed on them, it is important that you understand the reason why they say the decision is wrong. It is also important that, if possible, the person who hears the appeal is not the person who dealt with the disciplinary meeting.
Our solicitors can advise your company on all aspects of the disciplinary process.