Disciplinary Meeting Tips For Employer

Disciplinary meetings are a crucial part of any fair disciplinary process. The meeting is your employee’s opportunity to hear the case against them and your chance to get their side of the story. You must ensure that any disciplinary meeting you arrange is conducted properly and in line with the relevant guidelines. If you don’t, and if the employee subsequently issues unfair dismissal proceedings against you, the tribunal may increase any damages awarded to the employee by up to 25%. Here, our HR experts have pulled together some of their top disciplinary meeting tips for employers to help ensure your disciplinary meeting proceeds smoothly and complies with the relevant guidelines.

Call us now on 01491 598 600 or email us on  cw@gaphr.co.uk and we will be delighted to help you.

What are the rules governing disciplinary meetings?

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, better known as ACAS, has developed a Code of Practice to assist employers and employees in understanding their rights and responsibilities in relation to disciplinary and grievance matters. The Code acknowledges that it may not be practicable for all employers to adhere to its provisions to the letter, but reiterates that an employer must always act fairly.

The guidelines relating to disciplinary meetings cover the steps an employer should take before, during, and after the meeting. To assist you in complying with the Code and ensuring your disciplinary processes are fair, here are our expert HR advisors top 5 disciplinary meeting tips for employers.

Disciplinary meeting tip for employers #1: Communicate effectively

The Code suggests that employers try to resolve disciplinary issues informally with the employee in the first instance by talking to them about the problem. You should speak to the employee in private and give constructive criticism to improve the employee’s conduct or performance. If you decide that there is a problem that needs solving, you should ensure the employee understands what that problem is and how you propose to resolve it going forward. You should explain to the employee how you will monitor their progress, and for how long. It’s a good idea to put any action plan in writing, so you and your employee have it to refer to.

If informal measures fail and you decide to begin a formal disciplinary procedure, you must inform your employee immediately. Effective communication with your employee throughout can help avoid misunderstandings and ‘Chinese whispers’ situations, maintain work morale, and reduce the risks of your employee experiencing stress, anxiety or other mental health issues. By keeping relations as amicable as possible, you will lay the foundations for a productive disciplinary meeting.

Disciplinary meeting tip for employers #2: Preparation is key

Preparation is key to an effective disciplinary meeting. Before even commencing a formal disciplinary process, you must thoroughly investigate the issue by speaking to relevant witnesses and collating appropriate documentation. The purpose of your investigation is to find out as much as you can about the situation and ascertain whether your employee has a case to answer. The evidence you gather during your investigations will form the basis of the case against the employee.

Once you have decided to proceed with formal disciplinary action, it’s important to spend some time considering how you will conduct the meeting. By ensuring you have a clear idea of how matters should proceed, you can improve the fluidity of the meeting and encourage a constructive dialogue.

Examples of the types of issues you may need to consider include the following:

• Where and when will you hold the meeting?

The venue for the meeting should be as discreet as possible, to lessen your employee’s embarrassment and encourage their engagement. If you operate from small premises, you may consider holding the meeting outside of working hours to guarantee privacy.

• Who should attend the meeting?

It’s important to select the right personnel from your organisation to attend the meeting. If you have an HR Department, a representative from that department should attend. Smaller businesses with no dedicated HR team should choose an individual of suitable seniority who has not previously been involved with the matter.

• Prepare an agenda

A clear agenda will facilitate meaningful discussions and ensure your employee has an opportunity to consider the evidence against them and put forward their own position. You should think carefully about the questions you will ask, making sure they are fair and reasonable.

Disciplinary meeting tip for employers #3: Your obligations begin beforehand

Your obligations relating to disciplinary matters under the Code begin as soon as you become aware of a possible issue. Once you have decided to hold a disciplinary meeting, you cannot simply set a date and summon your employee. Instead, you must ensure you undertake the following steps:

• In good time before the meeting, you must write to the employee to provide them with the following information:

  • The alleged misconduct or performance related issue to be discussed at the meeting.
  • The evidence you have gathered about the matter.
  • When and where the meeting will be held.
  • Their right to be accompanied to the meeting (see below).
  • The possible outcomes.

• Notify your employee of their right to be accompanied to the meeting.

If the meeting could result in disciplinary action against the employee, they have a right to be accompanied by a specific individual. The individual can be a work colleague, trade union representative, or official employed by a trade union.

Disciplinary meeting tip for employers #4: Ensure you understand the purpose of the disciplinary meeting

The disciplinary meeting is your chance to deep dive into the facts of the issue, put your case to the employee, consider their evidence and ensure you are best placed to make a fair and balanced decision. You should make every effort to avoid the meeting spiralling into a heated debate and instead seek to nurture a calm, supportive environment in which your employee feels able to speak openly.

It is important to understand that it is sometimes not enough to merely follow a fair disciplinary process; you must be able to prove you did so should your employee issue an unfair dismissal claim against you. Accordingly, it is vital that you take clear, detailed, contemporaneous notes of everything discussed during the meeting. If the matter proceeds to litigation, those notes will be a key piece of evidence. It’s a good idea to ask the employee to read through the notes and sign them to confirm their agreement with the contents before the meeting ends.

Disciplinary meeting tip for employers #5: Act swiftly

You must deal with disciplinary issues swiftly and without any unreasonable delay. When the disciplinary meeting has concluded, you should make your decision and communicate it to the employee as soon as possible. You must also inform your employee of their right to appeal your decision and explain the procedure.

The importance of conducting disciplinary meetings fairly and complying with the Code cannot be overstated. If you have any doubts regarding your obligations, you should seek advice and support from expert HR specialists.

Call us now on 01491 598 600 or email us on  cw@gaphr.co.uk and we will be delighted to help you.

Disciplinary Meeting Tips For Employer

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