Are you faced with being disciplined at work? It is important to understand your rights and to put your case as effectively as possible. We explain the legal position.
Your employer has the right to take disciplinary action against you if they consider that your conduct, job performance or attendance is not satisfactory. However, this action should follow the rules of fairness and natural justice. This means that, in most cases, your employer should:
- investigate the alleged problem sufficiently thoroughly
- prepare their case and make it available for you to consider
- allow you to prepare your case and put your side of the story – including your own evidence
- allow you to appeal if you are not happy with the decision made.
In addition you have a statutory right to be accompanied to a disciplinary meeting by a work colleague or a trade union official or representative. In some cases, you may have a right to representation 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, witnesses’ statements may be considered and questions may be asked. You should be given the opportunity to put your case so that the person making the decision is fully informed before doing so. There should always be a note of what is said at the meeting. Sometimes disciplinary meetings are recorded.
If you are unhappy with a sanction imposed following a disciplinary meeting, you should have the right to appeal. It is important that you make it clear why you feel 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 you on all aspects of the disciplinary process.