Agenda for a Disciplinary Hearing
Decide who should attend – someone to make the decision, some to take the minutes
Ensure that everyone involved, including any witnesses and anyone accompanying the employee have been notified of the time and location of the hearing and are available.
Deal with any requests for special adjustments – a translator for example or a companion other than a work colleague or trade union rep. Check if any reasonable adjustments need to be made if either the employee, their companion or any witnesses are disabled.
If an employee fails to attend, or seeks a last-minute adjournment, you will need to decide whether to adjourn the hearing. If unforeseeable circumstances are involved, it is usually appropriate to adjourn the hearing for a reasonable period.
If the employee persistently fails to attend, or is unwilling to attend without good reason, and it appears that they may simply be stalling, the chair should consider whether they can hear the evidence and take a decision fairly in the employee’s absence or whether other arrangement can be offered e.g. skype/telephone conference.
If the employee’s companion cannot attend, the onus is on the employee to suggest another date. You will only have to agree to the new date if it is “reasonable” and not more than five working days after the original hearing date
At the beginning of the hearing introduce the people present and explain their role in the disciplinary procedure.
If the employee is unaccompanied, remind them of their right to be accompanied.
If the employee is accompanied, verify the identity of the companion to ensure that they are entitled to be present.
Check that the employee has:
read and understood the applicable disciplinary procedure;
understood the purpose of the hearing; and
received copies of any documents that will be referred to during the hearing.
Explain in detail the allegations that have been made against the employee, and the evidence that you are relying on in support of those allegations. It is also good practice to remind the employee of the possible outcome (for example, a warning or dismissal). All of this information should have already been provided to the employee in writing, well before the meeting.
The employee should be given the opportunity to ask questions, present their version of events and produce any evidence in support. They should have a reasonable opportunity to call witnesses, provided that they have given advance notice that they intend to do so. They can also respond to (or challenge) any documentary evidence or witness testimony. If the employee has a full opportunity to present their version of events, and you have carried out as much investigation as is reasonable, you do not need to let the employee cross-examine witnesses, particularly if it would be likely to cause distress to the witnesses or affect the hearing in any way.
If new evidence comes to light during the hearing, you should consider adjourning the hearing to check facts or re-interview witnesses, and then reconvene it to allow the employee a further right to respond.
The employee, who will inevitably be under stress, may be angry, abusive or visibly distressed during the hearing. You should be sensitive to this, and make sensible use of adjournments to allow the employee to regain their composure.
Once the employee has presented their case, you should summarise the information put forward by both parties. The employee should be asked whether they want to make any additional comments or ask any further questions at this stage.
Once you have reached a decision, the hearing should ideally be reconvened and the decision explained to the employee. The decision should be communicated formally in writing anyway, and the employee should be told of their right of appeal.